A friend of mine lost her father several years ago. Her mother, who is a dear Italian woman, has not let go of her husband’s items. She still has a closet full of his clothing and a basement filled with items he once used. For her, it’s unthinkable to let go of what brings back so many memories of her deceased husband.
We see this often. A loved one dies and the surviving spouse or family member holds onto items that remind them of the deceased. It’s natural and it’s normal to want to hold onto the memories of time spent with a cherished loved one. What is not healthy, it holding onto items for several years instead of letting them go.
Why does this happen? When we are born, we are dependant on other people to take care of us and keep us safe. We build strong emotional and physical bonds with the people that love and care for us. As we grow older, these bonds grow stronger and our relationships become defined by the experiences we have with these people.
When a loved one dies, the definition of that person in our life carries with it the weight of what they meant to us, and with that, their physical belongings.
Losing a loved one is the most challenging experience we will ever have to face. The loss of a loved one brings with it emptiness, loneliness and a feeling of being lost. Having physical objects to comfort and remind us of the person who died brings a sense of relief in knowing that the connection to them is still alive.
However, letting go of a physical object doesn’t mean letting go of neither the connection nor the love we have for a loved one. The physical object may bring up memories for us, and so do photographs, videos, even a scent of perfume they once wore. There are countless things that carry with it the memories of a deceased loved one.
In letting go of physical objects from days gone by, we allow ourselves to open up to new experiences, new connections with our deceased loved one. Rather than hanging on tightly to what once was, we allow ourselves to be open to living our lives to new ways of experiencing our deceased loved one’s presence.