Organizing for Life and Death

by Tina on October 16, 2010

Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes

My Granny died yesterday. At 94, she lived a long life. I’m sad for myself and all those that will miss her. But, I am so happy for her that she is no longer constrained to her failing mind and body.

The truth is, we’ve missed Granny for a long time now. Her dementia was profound, and most of her personality has been gone from our sight for years… except for brief little miracle glimpses of “the old Granny” that warmed and saddened our hearts from time to time.

The Bible says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” I believe the moment she closed her eyes here on earth, she was and is with her Jesus in heaven, the same Jesus that she served and represented all of her life. What a comfort to know that I will see her again one day!

I don’t know why God chooses to take some people home at a young age (my sister, Misty, at 34 years old from cancer) and then lets some linger long after their minds and bodies have worn out (Granny at 94 years old from dementia). But, I trust Him and His plans. He gets a lot of questioning from me and a lot of tears and sometimes kicking and screaming. But, I really do trust Him. 🙂 If you don’t already, I hope you’ll consider trusting Him, too.

Granny left a legacy of faith, but she also left a legacy of simplicity. The simplicity part is easier to do when there is not much money, which was true for her. She just did not have the means to acquire much. But, she stretched every dollar with coupons and bargain shopping and prayer and great love for her family, and ultimately she always had “even enough”. That was her term for the exact right amount – no more and no less than what was needed.

As Granny’s dementia progressed, my Mom went through many stages of adding more assistance to Granny’s day. First, there was checking in on her more frequently, then hiring someone to sit with her during the day to make sure that she ate and took her medicines, then spending the night with her, and so on.

During this time, Mom was essentially keeping up two homes, hers and Granny’s. Though very difficult, it gave her an opportunity to pare down Granny’s things a little at a time over several years. And, in these early days, Granny could participate in the decisions. Mom’s two brothers and their families do not live nearby. But, when they visited, they were able to contribute to the upkeep of Granny’s home also.

When it came time to move Granny into my Mom’s home, Mom had to search Granny’s home for treasures to bring with her into her new space. These were Mom’s decisions now, partly because her brothers had given her that authority on their behalf, partly because Granny had always been very easy going, and partly because the dementia had already robbed Granny of the ability to make/communicate these kinds of decisions.

What a delicate situation. What items would be good representatives of Granny’s decades of living, and what would physically fit and be aesthetically pleasing in her new space? What items of furniture, clothing, and  memorabilia were the right treasures to bring with her?

Because Granny had fewer things than someone of more means, and because a huge chunk of the “reducing” process  happened slowly over several years, the actual work needed at this time went much more quickly than it does for some families. There were tears and laughter as Mom went through the memorabilia that Granny did keep.

And, what a lovely space resulted. It was the perfect environment for Granny for her last years on this earth. It was “even enough”.

If I could wave a magic wand and wish something for you, it would be that you, while you are of sound mind and body, would do this for yourself, now. In your space, right now, only keep those items which you absolutely love and use.

Make a date with yourself to give your home a once over every six months (or annually, you pick the time interval). Or, if “once” seems insurmountable, take one room a month until you get it done.

If you don’t love it or use it, please sell, donate, and recycle all you can. And, throw away the rest. Don’t save it for “one day”. Let someone else get the use out of it now that it deserves.

(And, when you give it to someone else, make sure that you tell them it’s okay to pass it on to another person whenever they see fit. That one little statement saves a lot of unnecessary guilt. Don’t you give gifts so someone can enjoy them? If they’re not enjoying them, they should move them along out of their space, too.)

This way, you get to make these important decisions. And, you don’t leave a grieving family to do it after you’re gone. If you’re not physically able, ask for help. You can do this.

Here’s what Granny is seeing today: “…I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1 (New International Version)

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 Hello, my name is Tina Bonifacio, and I am a Professional Organizer working with residential and commercial clients in the greater Savannah, Georgia area. For more information, visit http://www.OrganizedByTina.com. Thanks for stopping by. You are welcome back anytime.


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