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The Great Death Declutter

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The Great Death Declutter
Credits: photo courtesy of Guideposts
Some years ago, I went to a moving house sale. A man had passed on and his wife wanted to sell off the house, and move elsewhere. But the house must be vacated first, and there was a lot of stuff to be removed.
I soon realised that the man was a voracious reader, and there were shelves of books and CDs left behind. I browsed through the titles and spotted a number of brand new self-help, wellness books and CDs. I imagined him, in his last days, reading these books, perhaps hoping to find some optimism, some hope in his final days.
I might have been wrong but isn’t it natural for many of us to judge a person’s interests and life based on their bookshelves?
That event made me think about my bookshelves and in the small hours of the morning, I woke up and thought about all the little knick-knacks, all the large and small things I’ve accumulated over the years in my drawers, from my jewellery, to my makeup, to my underwear, my wardrobe, my bags, and God help me, the stuff that’s unmentionable.
What will people make of my stuff when I’m gone or is it again a case of ‘no eyes to see’?
It’s a thought that drove me into checking my drawers the next day. Maybe there’s nothing to be ashamed of; everybody’s got stuff that they have collected. But I do think about getting rid of the stuff part. I have heard horror stories of families who were left with heaps of all sort of things to be cleared after a loved one has passed on. And it’s not a case of simply lugging it all to the Salvation Army!
My family home was destroyed in a fire years before my parents passed on so after their eventual deaths, we had little decluttering to do. But if we had that house, I can imagine the clearing up that needed to be done!
But these days, many of us live in homes filled with things we have collected from our travels, from sales, from friends and families as gifts, and don’t forget the stuff that we kept simply because they might come in useful one day.
And if we have lived in that house for many years, one can well imagine how much there is that live on the shelves and in the compartments, drawers, and containers of the various wardrobes, cupboards and secret storage spaces that designers are so good at integrating into our homes.
So, what’s a person to do? Declutter but mindfully.
Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater because there’s always the off chance that your children would like something that you decided to discard.
But whatever it is, this is the time to slowly but surely sort out the things that should be kept and those that should be discarded.
If in doubt, always imagine your loved ones looking at what you’ve left behind. Would they thank you? Or would they shake their heads and frown?
Whatever it is, remember that nature abhors a vacuum, and that things have a way of expanding to fill up whatever space you have. Resist filling up empty spaces. Keep some empty drawers. And practise a monthly transfer of things you don’t need out of your home.
Do you think it is necessary to do this kind of decluttering? Or would you prefer to leave everything as they are? Let’s hear your thoughts!

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Cheah Yin Mee

A retired teacher who can’t stop teaching. Her daily activities include writing, yoga, art and gardening.

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