Two years ago I wrote this article as a way of sharing what our aunt went through and the advice I gave her. It first was written when I first started this blog and as a result was not seen by many people. I had a conversation the other day that brought this back to mind. So I am re sharing with expansion. I hope you enjoy.
The Original post with grammar changes to make it past tense.
My wife's aunt lost her husband to cancer in February of 2012. Some ,hopefully, well meaning friends were basically trying to take over her finances and trying to make decisions on her behalf when it came to the possessions of her late husband. She was really torn up emotionally over selling his car and now then were pushing her to sell other personal items that he held dear. One of these friends had even gone so far as to take items and have them appraised, without her permission. I fear this happens far more often than we realize.
I was talking to a gentleman this week that was going through a similar situation. His wife had died and his children were pushing him to sell many of their mother's possessions. Once again, I think they meant well, but this is not the way things should be done. In both of these situations neither of the surviving spouses really needed an inflow of cash. Both spouses that passed had life insurance that was able to cover burial expenses and more.
So why were they being pushed to get rid of their spouses' things? In my aunt's situation I honestly think one of the people pushing liquidation wanted several of the items. I would not put it past him to sell several items and keep a couple, you know as a fee. I do not think this was the children's motivation or strongly encouraging their father. I think they saw it as an opportunity to get rid of things before their dad died too so they wouldn't have to deal with them.
FYI Two years after my aunt's husband passed away his office still looks like he just walked out and will be back any moment. My aunt has found peace by still having a lot of his things around. Time is what people need. No one should force a person to get rid of things. If a person wants to create a shrine for the one they loved they should be able to do so.
The advice I gave both was this. When you get ready to start selling or giving away your spouses things, I don't want you to just let people take them. I want you to take each item in your hands, physically touch each piece. Then ask yourself these questions; Do I need this? Do I want this? Will I be sorry if this is gone? If you cannot answer no to all three of these questions, you are not ready to give up that item yet.
Talking to her got me thinking. Why don't I modify these questions and apply them to my everyday life. The modified questions would look something like this. Do I need this? Do I want this? If I want this, why? Will it improve my quality of life or make me more productive? Will this item make me more secure? Will this item help me grow as a person? If I cannot answer yes to at least two of these questions I will not purchase the item.
Any time we are thinking about making a large purchase, my wife and I talk about it. We research the item. We see if we can get the same or similar items somewhere else for a better price or at the same price with a better warranty or of better quality. In the process we are waiting. No purchase of a sizable amount should be made on impulse. Time should pass so you can be sure that this item is what you really want.
What is a sizable purchase? Well that depends. If you are a multimillionaire, you might have to make it all the way up to the price of a car before it would be considered a sizable purchase. If you are living on a limited budget you may have to think before spending $50.00 on a used dehydrator. It is all a matter of scale. There will always be the "Well, if I wait someone else may buy it." Yup, that is true. But you can only spend money once. As soon as it has left your hand it is no longer yours. You are no worse off if you do not get the dehydrator.
Honestly, if we all ask ourselves these questions how many things would we not purchase? How much better would our personal economies be?
On another note - sometimes a person's death spurs people to action. My grandfather died this past April. Both my wife and I wrote posts about him and our family after his death. His death served as a wake up call for several members of my family. He had taught all of us, my whole life anyway to be as self sustainable as possible. When he died he left a hole in our family. My dad and step mom moved in with my grandmother to help her cover expenses and to take care of her. Dad retired and has gone to farming full time and doing a fairly good job of it. He is teaching everyone he can how to take care of themselves by taking care of the land and so am I.
My grandfather knew he was dying. Before he went into the hospital for the last time he started handing out things. He did this to make sure that who he wanted to have something was the one who got that item. I have so many things that I cherish that my grandfather gave me and I would not try to begrudge any of my family of the things he gave them. If you find yourself in a situation similar, remember to think of what the person who has gone would have wanted, but also remember the ones who are still here are the ones that are hurting.
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I hope this post has given you something to think about and I hope it finds you well. May God grant you your
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