Why Is It So Hard to Throw Things Away?

I've often thought that one reason older people don't want to move is because it would make them have to decide what to move and what to throw away. How can you throw out a lifetime of memories or many of those items you just might need?

I think about this a lot because I donate my time to Aging In Place in Darien, and because when I was a kid, I used to move about every two years, which necessitated lots of throwing away, selling, giving away and packing up. I've now spent over 20 years in one place, and although wanderlust strikes me often, I also dread the idea of a move.

Recently, I tried to make myself do "spring cleaning" and discovered that it's good to sort through old papers. You can find things! You can clear the decks. But on the whole, it's just not as satisfying to me as weeding or tilling the soil. Spring to me means it's time to work in the garden. Maybe I just like putting down roots.

But yesterday, I read a wonderful piece in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about cleaning out the parents' home. The writer, Rick Marin, took a week to do it. The piece is worth reading, mostly because it's just good writing. But it's also worth it to make you think about who should do the throwing out. You? Your adult children? People left behind when you're dead or incapacitated? Not pleasant thoughts, but still, ones worth having. I commend the article to you.
Objects of Accumulation
Published: April 19, 2010
Packing up an entire houseful of stuff and memories.

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