Sunday, September 2, 2007

What to do with child's possessions

When your child dies, you must eventually make decisions about your child's possessions and what to do with them. Certain items you will always keep...that cute drawing a 3-year-old made of what he perceives as his house...that first hand print...that certificate the child gave you saying you are 'the greatest mother in the world.' Those are items you will treasure forever. Other items you have to make decisions about: the clothing, the jewelry, the trophies and awards.

Should you keep everything? Should you give everything away? Some parents gain much comfort during the grief process from seeing, touching and wearing their child's items. Others find it too painful. Do what feels right for you WHEN you wish to do it. Don't let family or friends tell you what or when to do it. It is important not to dispose of items too quickly as later you may regret it.

I kept most of my daughter's jewelry because I like to wear it. It makes me feel so close to her and she had such wonderful taste in jewelry. A few earings I wanted some of her friends to have and asked them to choose what they wanted. I did the same with her clothes, keeping some, giving some to her friends who were her same size, and giving the rest to Goodwill. Wearing the clothing is also comforting, although her perfume smell has long since disappeared. A leather jacket she bought in Italy and a sweater jacket I wear in chilly weather to this day still bring compliments for their designs. As I wear them out a little, I can only hope that they will continue to last for quite a while to come.

I only have one blouse left and thought I would make it into a carrie bear. Carrie Pike at takes clothing and will make bears out of it and even put pictures on the front of the bears. I packaged up the last blouse and was just about to mail it. Then a strange thing happened. I couldn't let it out of my hands. "The last blouse," I kept saying. "I can't. I can't." In the end I couldn't mail the blouse, took it out and hung it back up. Maybe one day I'll be ready. But then again... maybe not. Surviving grief certainly has its ups and downs.

There is no correct timing for doing something with your child's belongings. You'll know when you are ready for a change. One important thing to remember is to store items you want to keep in a place with a good temperature, so they don't get ruined. If there is anything you want to display, there are a myriad of ways you can do it...trophy cases, display cases or a memory box. Or you may just want to keep it in your closet to take out from time to time as you remember.

The most important thing to remember is that putting your loved ones things away does not mean putting them out of your life. Your child will always remain a part of you.

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