Ali, my new client called, sounding totally overwhelmed. She had had a very difficult year, losing 3 close relatives who she loved dearly. She was clearly still grieving. Not only that, but she had inherited a lot of their things.
“Please help me, “she begged. “I live in a small apartment and can’t seem to find place to put everything”.
When I went to meet her, I soon realized that her ‘style’ was minimalist. She liked a sense of space and felt most comfortable with lots of light and openness. But she also loved dearly the relatives she had lost. It was immediately clear to me that we were going to have to separate ‘what she loved’ from ‘who she loved.’
We spent an interesting and emotional day together going through her memories of the people she had lost, and the stories behind the objects she had inherited. As we did so, I encouraged her to make a clear pile of objects she clearly did not like. Although she loved her aunt, she did not love an ugly olive wood camel her aunt had kept on her mantle. My client had grown up playing with the camel, but conceded that she did not have to play with it anymore! We took a picture of it for her digital library and it became the symbol of moving on.
I told her about the wonderful Native American practice of the ‘Giving basket’. In many of their communities they regularly look at their things and ascertain whether they have used it in the past six months or whether they plan to use it in the next six months. If not, it goes to the community give-away area in the central square. Sharing at best! My client decided that her favorite charity would be an apt recipient.
Ali was delighted to realize that she could make a digital scrapbook of everything that reminded her of the people she loved. And just as delighted that she could honor herself by not having to keep everything they had bequeathed her. She knew they would want her to be happy in her space, and also that they would appreciate her “sharing their love” with others who would appreciate their things. And most importantly her apartment could still have the open Zen-like space she craved for herself.