What You Leave Behind

Posted on October 12, 2016 by Martin Oaks under Community
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Thank you for the tremendous response to our previous blog about how death care professionals deal with the loss of a loved one. Some additional comments are worthy of attention.

Part of the painful experience of dealing with loss is what is left behind – I am specifically referring to personal possessions. In many ways disposing of these possessions can prompt as much grief as the loss itself.

In the case of my mother, the keepsakes she had in her home revealed much of what she considered to be important. Her collection of family photos was particularly significant to me.

Above on the left, is a large poster she had of my son, Matthew, whose nickname is Cubby. The photo was shot many years ago at the Mickey Owen Baseball School in Miller, Missouri. Today, Cubby works for a commercial real estate firm in New York City.

As you may know, Owen was a journeyman major league catcher, whose infamous error during the 1941 World Series remained his unfortunate legacy. The camp, which is still in existence, is one of the finer baseball academies in the country.

Side note: Michael Jordan attended this academy and his signature is on the ceiling in one of the cabins above the bunk he occupied. Needless to say, this bunk is much sought after by incoming campers.

The other photo, which I found in my mother’s belongings, was taken at Wrigley Field on August 8, 1988, the night the Cubs first played under the lights in the Friendly Confines. You may recognize the gentleman in the middle as George Will, renowned columnist, television commentator and avid Cubs fan. On the right, is my son, Jon, drenched during the rainout that evening — the author of this blog is on the left. Jon, today, is the owner of two TJ’s Seafood restaurants in Dallas, Texas – both of which are successful and serve delicious fare.

These two photos were obviously quite meaningful to my mother and they bring back pleasant memories of how much she cared for her grandchildren.

It took me about a year before I was really able to go through much of my mother possessions. If this experience taught me anything, it is to be mindful of what you leave behind for your family. Going through personal effects is certainly an important part of the grief process, but I would suggest eliminating as many items as possible, thus minimizing the task for your decedents.

If you have had similar experiences or suggestions, please feel free to share them with us!

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