Definition of Loved One’s Possessions

Until Rod’s passing, I was unaware of the true significance of a personal possession – something belonging just to you, something that doesn’t have meaning to anyone but you. The night I learned of Rod’s death, I returned home from the hospital to the house we shared as a family. The realization that he was never coming home took my breath away.

In a rage of anger, I grabbed his toothbrush and threw it violently across the room. I was so angry that he had passed, leaving me with such uncertainty. Of course, his untimely death was not his fault. As I sat on the bathroom floor crying, staring at his toothbrush, my mind drifted to the thought, What do I do with his toothbrush?

From that moment forward, everything I touched of his personal possessions became mine. Someday I would have to figure out what to do with everything. But for now, his T-shirt became my pajamas, his briefcase quickly became my daily work bag, and his coffee mug was my morning companion. While I immediately repurposed some of his belongings, the rest would have to wait until I was ready – which could be never.

What to do with the Possessions?

What I didn’t learn in school, or through my family experiences, or in my short thirty-one years was what happens to a loved one’s belongings when they die. Do you keep these items forever? Are they boxed and placed in the attic? Do you give stuff away?

Logically, I knew that someday I would need to sort through his drawers, finding a new home for his belongings. But emotionally I was unaware of how one could possibly embrace this endeavor. If I didn’t do it, who would? It would have to be me; I would never allow anyone else to touch his things. Nothing he owned belonged in the trash – not even his toothbrush.

The first lesson Rod’s belongings taught me was that items have both physical and emotional attributes – what we see and what we feel. I needed to embrace the notion that his shirts were more than something he wore to work. His running shoes were more than just a pair of shoes, and his eyeglasses were more than something to help his vision. All of his belongings represented his life. I wanted to savor the stories and memories each one held for myself, our daughter, friends, and family members.

We are intertwined with our Loved One’s Possessions

I didn’t know what to do next. I just wanted to spend time with Rod’s possessions, as they were his things and I wanted to be with him. As I learned about the meaning of possessions, I discovered how intertwined we are with our things and how much comfort they can provide. Who knew his red coat could have provided such warmth and security?

The most notable insight to come out of Rod’s death was that our personal possessions tell a unique story that should be captured, embraced, shared, and cherished forever. Of course, these belongings do not replace a person; they do, however, provide a tremendous amount of comfort, connection, and reassurance.

This is an excerpt from Rachel Kodanaz’s book, available at Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What To Do With Your and a Loved One’s Personal Possessions eBook: Kodanaz, Rachel: Kindle Store

Tags: ,

Rachel Kodanaz

The idea of writing and speaking on all aspects of loss was part of Rachel’s journey following the unexpected loss of her husband when she was 31 years old. At the time, Rachel was a member of management in a large corporation and a mother of a two-year-old. Having worked in management for Fortune 500 companies, she learned quickly the see-saw created when personal and professional trajectories collide allowing her to providing invaluable insight to Human Resources departments. She created a program providing guidance to co-workers, managers and HR personnel in support of a colleague returning to work after a loss. Rachel speaks nationally to organizations, at conferences and in support of all aspects of loss. She has published numerous articles, books and blogs and has appeared on Good Morning America. Her books, best-seller Living with Loss One Day at a Time, Grief in the Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide for Being Prepared and her latest Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What to do with your or a loved one’s personal possessions have received international acclaim. Rachel lives an active healthy lifestyle in Colorado with her husband running, biking and hiking. She is an avid athlete including a Hawaiian Ironman Finisher.

More Articles Written by Rachel