Inheritance Clutter

04/22/2015 06:32 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2015

My client talked about how she had inherited items from her brother and father when they passed on. She had gotten rid of some of these things over time. But a large amount of the stuff was spread throughout her apartment. She looked down and rubbed her eyes while she talked about the situation. She was overwhelmed and didn't know what to do.

I said she wasn't alone. I've worked with a lot of people who felt stuck and down amidst their inheritance. When someone close to us dies, we're in grief, and it becomes hard to get things done. Our capacity is greatly diminished. We think we should be able to do more than we actually can, which makes us feel even worse, diminishing us even more. And then there's the feeling that if we let a bunch of the person who has died's stuff go, we are letting the person go. We associate their stuff with them. So we hang on to it, feeling like it keeps them around, but it's really just an empty reminder that they are gone. And lastly, there's a part of us that resents the person who died because they put us in this situation.

That's a lot to deal with, it's overwhelming, and no wonder she found herself in that situation.

She felt better with this perspective. She stopped feeling that something was wrong with her. She instead saw that the situation was injuring her. She said she realized that the inheritance was a limitation. She felt encouraged to begin removing this restriction on her life.

I told everyone in the room that we owe it to the people that we love to not leave them with a mass collection of our stuff. We never know when it's our time to go. But we can start to eliminate the things we don't like and use, so it's not dumped on the people who live on after us. They are going to be sad when we die. It's a kind and compassionate act to not add to their pain.