Another Case for Minimalism

My wife’s father passed away at the end of August. It came quickly. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at the end of June. Two months later he was gone.

I originally wrote a long, yet only partial, list of some of the items we’ve had to dispose, recycle, give away, etc. and the time we’ve had to spend doing so here. The truth is, the amount of items and dissertations on the needs/wants/don’t needs of each doesn’t matter. Stuff is stuff. Someone will have to deal with it regardless.

All of this stuff we own and save and think is so very important to have… It’s also what we will leave behind when we die. And those we purport to love and care about will be the ones left to clean up our mess. In what will in all likelihood be a time of grief, they’ll be cleaning. In their loss, they’ll be organizing. In a time of darkness, they’ll be digging out of our mountain of stuff trying to find the light.

The thing is, if he knew he had six months, 12 months, 18 months left, maybe he would have done something about all of the stuff. maybe he would have thought to whittle it down and spare us of some of this burden. Or not. Who knows? But, the truth is that, most of us don’t have that. Death comes quickly, suddenly, without warning. Therefore, it behooves us to prepare for it to happen anytime. To treat everything we buy and every choice we make as something that may have a permanence that will outlast us.

This is yet another case for being intentional about our possessions and doing our best to practice living with only as much as we need. The truth is that when we go, all the things that may be of benefit to you will become a burden for those we leave behind. The things you keep around to be used someday become the things that have to go today. Even the things one generally needs like the food in the refrigerator, cups in the cupboard, and clothes in the closet will have to be dealt with by someone — likely someone you love. Most of it will have to go somewhere, likely not with them. Especially if they are trying to save such a burden for the ones they love.

So, this is another reason to live as lightly as we can. To put some serious thought into what we need, what we don’t, what is our “enough”. Because, whether it matters or not, we will leave it all behind one day.