At some point in your life, there is a high probability that you will be faced with the task of having to clear out the home of a recently deceased friend or relative. I've done this twice and it is a life altering experience. Naturally, when someone passes, it's a time for self-reflection. I've found that it makes me want to get in touch with friends and check things off my bucket list. However, cleaning out the home of the recently deceased brings about a different kind of self-reflection that I will refer to as The Purge.
It makes you realize that a person can accumulate a lot of crap and sometimes what the crap says about the owner is not such a great thing. The person tasked with cleaning out your home is going to uncover all of these secrets.
Now, you can say, "I'm going to be dead, so what do I care?". Fair enough. However, if you care about the people in your life, get your crap in order.
My mom invented organization. She laminated and filed everything. She made lists for her lists. When she passed, I discovered her secrets.
My paternal grandparents were Mormon and when my parents bought our townhouse, my grandparents insisted on building a food closet for them. It's in the garage and is big enough to hold a years worth of canned goods and supplies. Nice thought, but we never stored more than holiday decorations and cans of Spaghetti-O's.
I had not been in the food closet for years, until I went in it after my mom died and discovered more Saran Wrap, Wax Paper and Ziplock Bags than my Sixty-Eight year old mother could have used in five life times. It was on every shelf, definitely bought in bulk at Costco, just incase the zombie apocalypse came and she didn't have supplies to wrap up her annual holiday sweets. My mom never touched the kitchen except from Thanksgiving thru Christmas, when she cooked the turkey's and made an addictive butterscotch nibbles. I'm dying to know why my mom felt the need for the stockpile.
I also found out that my mom had a secret affinity for anything sold by The Franklin Mint.
She had thirty unopened decks of playing cards. My mom hosted a card night maybe twice a year.
Mom didn't have anything too bizarre or shocking, but I found a stack of papers clipped together. Each was a list detailing exactly what she would do if she won the lottery or hit a big jackpot in Vegas. Initially, I thought that this was kind of sad, making plans for money that is nearly impossible to win. However, now look it more like a dream list and it was nice to know that she would have been very generous towards a lot of people and organizations. My mom had a big heart. She liked to gamble, but I know she didn't have a problem with it, so this may have been a waste of time, but it's essentially harmless daydreaming.
Yesterday, I helped a family friend clean out the apartment of her deceased daughter. I never met this person, but learned a lot about her yesterday. She was a hoarder and unfortunately, she was also into crafting and costuming, which only made the level of junk in her apartment astronomical. I was rather stunned by the spectacle and swaths of fabric hanging in every inch of available airspace.
I knew things about her, like she was an amazing singer, very vivacious and beautiful. She had many friends who loved her and although she loved children and owned a children's party company, she never had any of her own. I also learned, by finding a box while cleaning her closet, that she was a star in the adult entertainment industry. Skeletons in a box, hiding in the back of the closet. This is the sort of stuff that should be thought through when you know that your eighty-year-old mother is going to be tasked with the clean up. It was graphic. Also, this apartment was in such a mess, that it's going to take weeks to clear out, most falling on a grieving mother.
I feel that people have the right to privacy and to live their lives the way they wish. However, it's definitely something to consider that someday, people you love and who likely be very emotional over your death, with be tasked with combing through your stuff. What will they find? I can't see a stupid roll of Saran Wrap and not think of my mom hoarding it. What will they question? What extra burdens will be on their back, due to your lack of organization?
Cleaning someone else's house fills me with the burning desire to clean my own. It's time for The Purge and those useless collectibles gathering dust are the first to go!