Packing Up a Lifetime

Having to make an immediate or unexpected move to a rehabilitative center or assisted living due to health issues is very difficult for anyone. If the move becomes permanent, family members are often left with the sad task of disassembling the home left behind, a home filled with furniture, personal belongings, family treasures and…memories.

Author Marie Kondo created the now-famous KonMari Method of organizing a home by eliminating any belongings that do not bring joy into your life. This equation may help simplify whether to not to keep an old recipe book, for instance, but analyzing ‘joy’ becomes much less black or white when you recall happy memories of your mother or grandmother cooking a holiday dinner and writing careful notes and comments into the book’s margins. Simply, the emotional ties we have with ‘things’ take the longest to unravel.

Ellen Ryan wrote the article “Don’t Need to Downsize Yet? Great. Start Now.to address the unexpectedly difficult time many of us have with downsizing, minimizing or dismantling a household. Ryan advises us all to PRE-downsize before we need to, as the process can take months or even years to complete!

Nora, age 54, relates her recent experience with a move that required some brutal decisions:

“Last spring, after many years in my condo, I accepted a job offer with a company 100 miles away. I had to plan a move that involved some serious downsizing. It took my daughter and I about three weeks of back-breaking labor, and involved trips to Goodwill, leaving stuff marked ‘FREE’ at my curb, and stuffing over 40 large black garbage bags for trash pick-up. 

It was way more work than I expected, because my entire history (and my kids’ histories) had to be examined piece-by-piece before making the decision to keep or throw away. Do I save the baby clothes? The school year books? The almost-new sports equipment?  

I had a one-month window before the painter, carpet installer and movers showed up — so I had to make really fast decisions. At the very end, I was cleaning out a cupboard by simply throwing away its content…I was just out of time.

The thing is, I embrace minimalism! I don’t collect a lot of stuff. And STILL the packing practically took me down. Thirty years of storing items (I might need this!) and 30 years of freelancing (I better keep the workshop handouts!) and 30 years of parenting (I can’t toss the kids’ artwork!) just kind of creeps up on you — and once boxed away in a basement, it’s out of sight, out of mind. 

I cannot imagine having to go through everything (much less pack) if I was sick or disabled. It’s so much less harrowing to work on getting rid of stuff a few hours a week, when you have time to sell, give-away or donate, and are not under a deadline. Because I moved in a rush for my new job, I still have boxes stacked in my new basement that moved with me and need attention. There will be no mercy!

Our Marisa caregivers can help you or a family member gently organize drawers, closets and old photos as part of our home care services. An elderly client may wish to dictate notes about an object before it is carefully packed away, or may need help consolidating years of paperwork. Marisa Home Care can assist with tasks that ease transitions and give real peace-of-mind to overwhelmed families.

Have a special request? Just ask! Marisa Home Care is ready whenever you need a hand.

Call us now at 248-354-7600.