CHALLENGING CONVERSATIONS WHEN DOWNSIZING WITH SENIORS
No matter how much we are able to tap into our compassion (see Mindful Compassion While Seniors Downsize ), there are times when we need to initiate challenging conversations when we are downsizing with our elders.
Their energy is flagging, and so is ours. There's a time limit on this project as their move is happening next week. It feels as though there are too many decisions to make, and too much stuff lined up for the moving truck.
If you have been firm about not taking on your parents’ stuff (see Your Downsizing Cannot Be My Upsizing), this may be the time to give a little.
* Be reasonable. We may not want 99% of what our parents have, however, if there are items that are very special to them that they can’t take with them (i.e. beloved childhood books, old framed photographs), agree to store them for now. Tub them to avoid water damage, find a place in your storage for the short-haul, and deal with them after the move.
* You may agree to store a limited amount of totes for the long-haul that you can comfortably and safely move back and forth to their home such as seasonal decorations and off-season clothes.
* Sorting sentimental items is not something to do under time pressure. Corralling Sentimental Items and Downsizing Inherited Sentimental Objects may help you make some quick decisions. Some would say, "when in doubt, throw it out". When under time pressure, and you have sentimental items to sort, I say, "When in doubt, corral and sort later".
* Is it time to rent a storage unit for an agreed upon time (i.e., one year) so that your senior does not overfill their new home? While adjusting to their new surroundings, they may discover that they don't miss the things that they don’t have. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind may make it easier to let go before the storage unit lease needs renewing.
In the pressure of an imminent move of seniors, younger generations often find themselves promising to do things or keep things without knowing how they can honour the commitment.
This is the time to talk with a trusted sibling or friend about your own ethics at this challenging time. If you find yourself promising your parents that you will take items that you will never use, what do you need to say differently? What words have integrity for you? “Yes, Dad, I will take this item for now” may satisfy him while you know that you will take it but not keep it.
Believe that you and your parent can accomplish this huge task. Chat about other huge tasks that were accomplished in your lifetimes, likely in bite-sized pieces. What does bite-sized look like in this project? Keep a list or photographs of what you accomplish each time you meet so you can revisit success.
We can do it all, but not all at once.
Need some help in downsizing a home or clearing items from an estate? I am here to help by phone or in-person and welcome hearing from you about your concerns.