Clearing Out Your Parents' Estate: "They Left Us Everything"
I recently read Plum Johnson's poignant memoir, "They Left Us Everything", which tells the story of Plum and her three brothers dealing with the deaths of their parents and the aftermath, including emptying out their very large Oakville home.
Containing over a half century of accumulation and memories, her parents cluttered home (23 full rooms) begins to consume Plum, and despite her meticulous plans, she quickly becomes overwhelmed. Her six-week plan turns into sixteen months. Fortunately, she is able to accept the help of friends with much of the heavy labour.
We discover again through Plum that grief is a process and so too is letting go of possessions fraught with memories.
Although it takes Plum far far longer to sort through her parents possessions, she is fortunate indeed to have had the time and the physical and emotional support of family and many friends to help her deal with her parents' possessions. Many of us do not. If there is anything we can learn from Plum Johnson's telling memoir, it is that there is no shame in asking for help. Indeed there is trans-formative power in it. However, I wonder if she had it to do over if she would have reached out much sooner, and like many of us, she overestimated her ability to deal with the emotional side of de-cluttering her love ones estate.