Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Remember that monologue of George Carlin's about stuff? It was a kind of crass, but rather accurate statement about our tendency to acquire things. Some of us are worse about accumulating stuff than others. Michael was a borderline hoarder.

From the summer of 1994 until the fall of 2007, Michael lived in the guest house behind his friends' house about two miles from here. I guess it was no bigger than 700 square feet, and it was packed to the ceiling with his stuff. Most of his stuff was music related like recording equipment and instruments. The living room of that place was his home studio. When you entered, there were narrow paths between all the stuff to get to the studio area, the kitchenette, and the bedroom and bathroom. While there was a lot of music related stuff, Michael had a hard time throwing out other things and every flat surface had his stuff on it.

When he moved in here just a few weeks before our wedding, I told him I couldn't live like that. I let him take over the back bedroom so he could have his studio space, but the garage and the patio room held everything else. He promised that he would go through his things and get rid of what he didn't really need, but in the short time between our wedding and his diagnosis he did not get to it. Therefore, I am left with a lot of stuff to go through.

A couple of weeks ago a good friend of ours came over to go through his instruments with me, and then today another friend came over and began to go through the sound/recording equipment. Most of those things will be sold to friends and family members in the near future, but there's a lot of stuff that I just have to go through and throw out or donate. It's really overwhelming.

I think the hardest part of having to do this with Michael's things is that he loved his stuff so much. Stuff that looked like junk to me had sentimental value to him. Now that he's gone and I have to do this, I feel like I'm being disloyal to him in a way because I don't value his stuff like he did. And it also feels like I'm letting more and more of him go as I part with his stuff. From his Heavenly vantage point, I'm sure he doesn't mind. He's got what he needs there and none of his Earthly stuff is ever going to join him where he is. FedEx and UPS do not deliver to Heaven, but if they did I would pay any price to send him his stuff just so I wouldn't have to feel bad about getting rid of it.

Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches or moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Luke 12:33 & 34


  1. Oh Joannah, I can so relate to this situation on a number of levels. Although my parents are both alive and well, I know when the time comes for them to leave this Earth, it will be my responsibility to got through their "stuff". They have been in the same house for 41 years, and are both borderline hoarders.

    I struggle with anxiety over the magnitude of the task I'll face, and the same questions regarding how to let go of things that are/were so precious to a loved one without feeling disloyal to that person. I have tried to communicate my concerns about this with my folks, and they just don't get it.

    I'm sorry you're having to go through this process, but I remain in awe of your clarity and ability to maintain perspective. Hang in there...

  2. Praying for your peace of mind, as you go through this task. It can not be easy, but hopefully seeing Michael's things go to family and friends will help. Or out to schools and other resources that could put them to good use as Michael did.
    You are amazing in how you are dealing with all of this. Hoping when my time comes I will be able to cope with everything half as well as you have.
    Blessings from TX.

  3. I remember the first time I went through Jerrys' stuff... I had a hard time parting with alot of things. Every so often, I go through it again and I'm able to let more of his stuff go each time. I donated alot of things to charity, and gave some to his friends.
    I now have a chest that holds only the things that I can't part with. They mean nothing to anyone else but me.
    Peace to you,

  4. It is a daunting task and one that is best done slowly. You don't want to have any regrets later on down the road. Especially if there are things you'd like for your children to have some day. Just something to keep in mind as you move positively forward with IVF. Also, do whatever YOU feel is right in going through the "stuff". Don't allow anyone to bully you or talk you out of something. Stand firm. Thinking of you....take your time and be gentle on yourself. Hugs, Sarah

  5. ((((hugs)))) my only thought is do it as slowly as possible and be sure of what you want to keep or donate.

    I adore the teaching about treasures on earth vs treasures in Heaven. I always find it helps me say goodbye to things.

  6. Joannah - I am just watching Michael's tribute video. He was in Paul Anka's band???? WOW!!! I love Paul Anka!

    Re getting rid of stuff, when the kids left I wanted to keep everything, knowing the possibility of ever seeing them again was so slim. And while I can't relate to the death, gradually 5 years later, I miss them, their pictures, their cute adorable letters they made me, and less of their stuff. Like I said, I can't relate totally as they didn't die, but I've seen a shift in me.

  7. I completely understand feeling like youre being disloyal by selling their stuff. Some things I had to sell to live. I remember crying over selling his truck and my oldest son kept saying to me- remember mom, Dad hated that truck so dont feel bad. I just felt like everything about him was disappearing from before my eyes. But God even in that has been awesome! The things that really mattered to me, He provided great homes for which helped in me let it go. Ill share some of that with you when we see each other again. Hang in there my sister, our Father is faithful!


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