Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What you can do with loved one's possessions you don't want to give away.

After someone you love dies its difficult to let go of their possessions.

Whether it’s a baby blanket, an old sweater, a scarf or a ragged toy ….and sometimes we never let go. The arduous task of sorting through personal ‘stuff’ is like going to the dentist….we put it off, knowing that when confronted with their things its painful…like letting go of a piece of them, or a memory. But memories can’t be stolen or lost or given away. So yesterday I had a brainstorm about what I could do with some of Savannah’s ‘stuff.’

Dempsey’s closet is brimming with boxes, overflowing with old dusty stuffed toys and board books and dress ups that she’s simply grown out of. And Peter has been nagging me to purge.

I knew that I’d come across fragments of Savannah’s life behind the bulging sliding doors. But I was prepared. And I think if you are ready, and IF you can embrace the grief it may bring, then that’s a great place to start.

And I did find some of Savannah’s favorite toys, like a Barney toy that sings “I love you and you love me” if you squeeze his fat belly, her beloved Jemima doll that went everywhere with her. And a small plastic red wagon that I remember Savannah dragging behind her as she collected pine cones from the garden. I remember the sunshine picking up the gold in her hair as she gathered one after the other of the pine cones we’d later paint with glitter.

  Savannah's loved red wagon that I found hard to give away.  I hope another little one can enjoy the way she did.

And her books, oh her books! After Savannah’s hands became contracted from her horrid disease she couldn’t hold a book, or even turn a page! However, books still brought her comfort.

She couldn’t escape her illness, but we did manage to flee to the park. We’d pile her big red wagon and her blue reclining chair into our car and sit in the sunshine and read. Her smiles were such a reward back then! We also had a kind lady, Marcia who would come to our home, sit on her hospital bed, and read to her.

Some of Savannah's favorite books...I couldn't part with these ones :)

So, as I held these treasures in my hands I contemplated NOT giving them away, each one held a special memory. I could hear her dainty voice reading them…like she was right there next to me…..that was until Dempsey burst into the room and bombarded me with “Give those away Mummy, they’re for babies!” But how could I let go of these material things that were shrouded in memories of Savannah?

And I don’t know how this thought came to me, whether I read it somewhere or whether a light bulb went off in my brain, but I thought, “I can photograph them!” And make a memory book of these things that I didn’t want to part with but knew I had to….well, most of them anyway! :)

So tomorrow I’ll start cataloguing the ones I'll give away, one by one, this handful of cherished items that will give me gentle comfort anytime I wish…and Dempsey will have a collection of mementos of some of her sister’s short time with us which she might be interested in one day…..

Some of Savannah's favorite toys...her Jemima doll and Henry the Octopus, Humpty and Diddle the many memories attached!

And you can do this too! Create a memory album of photos of cherished possessions that you CAN’T hang onto for whatever reason, but you can record forever that can aid in your healing.

Savannah when she was well...oh how she adored her books!

I did hang on to a few I couldn’t part with….that will always just be hers!

Ones that I can take out and touch and pause to remember a little girl with a pile of books, chattering away happily, swallowed up by her imagination of some place special far away in the pages of those books…like where I imagine she is now…….


  1. BINGO on the digitally recorded memories! I was having the same train of thought this last few weeks. Before I get a SKIP to take the material away... As far as tarn goes, there may be something in her luggage for the [three!] girls next summer...
    take care

  2. I'm so glad you stumbled on taking photos! I often suggest this to anyone wanting to part with things but not their memories. May I offer one more step? Write down the stories about the treasured toy, blanket, book or even special clothes. You already do so beautifully on this blog, but what if you make a storybook with the photos and your favorite memories? Then you can keep them all safely tucked away or brought out to read and share anytime. I have a special website anyone can use for preserving memories and making storybooks after a loss:

    Seeing Savannah in her room makes me smile. Thanks for your insight and this blog. ~Joan

  3. Tone,

    Thanks for your message...the part about Tarnia's things for the THREE girls made me smile. I know she'd love to think her daughters were enjoying her things...and her niece she never met!

    I would love to look at what you record sometime...
    love to you all
    D xxxx x

  4. Dear Joan,

    Thank you for leaving such a beautiful comment...Savannah reading was a sight to see. I have her on video reading, it is magic!

    Thank you too for your suggestion, it's a wonderful one and something I hadn't thought of. I just looked up the site and its a fabulous idea. Especially for Dempsey. x

    It's comments like your Joan about my blog that inspire me to keep writing...knowing that readers enjoy this journey of mine. And I hope it helps with loss as your comment helped me tonight.

    With gratitude and love
    Diana x

  5. Diana ~ Thanks for your lovely comments about my blog ~ do treasure them ^_^ ~ My heart and distant reiki healing energy on its way to you ~ it is so painful when a wonderful little child is taken from you ~ great loss ~ know that she is watching over you ~ celebrate her life ~ she wouldn't want you to grieve long ~ children are resilient ~ thinking of you ~ many hugs and namaste to you ~ Carol^_^

  6. Hi Carol!

    Thanks for stopping by and sending some reiki healing energy. :) Your words are very wise and reminded me of something my beautiful Mum would say if she was here. THANK YOU!

    Children are resiliant, I only have to watch my precious Dempsey to see that.

    Sending love
    Diana x