6 things to do before you die

Monday, October 20, 2014

A few months ago my grandma passed away, and my parents recently sold her house. During the past few days, we spent countless hours going through every nook and cranny of the old house. The house was the same house she and my Papa had lived in my whole life. So, to say that I spent the last two days riding the mac-daddy of all emotional roller coasters would be just a slight understatement. 

First you cry. The house is empty and it doesn't feel right. It isn't right. Then eventually you stop crying and you clean, or continue to do whatever you were doing. Then you stumble across something that brings back a memory so vivid, so real, you're positive that she's back in the other room sitting in her la-z-boy doing a crossword puzzle. But she's not. So you cry again. For hours this vicious cycle went round and round.

As we went through her house and her precious belongings, I came to a few realizations of things we should all do before we die. Things that my Nana did to perfection. Things that helped my family get through this mournful time, with even just a hint of added ease, that may eventually give my family that same sense of comfort when I pass.

1. Keep your home neat and organized.

One day you're going to die. When that day comes, your family and loved ones will be the ones that will have to go through your belongings. The process is tedious, and so, so emotional. Deciding what to keep and what to trash or donate is already a difficult task, so why not make it easier on your family by keeping your home and belongings organized. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Save things.

Haha. If something is special to you, save it. Again, there is no need to hoard boxes and boxes of worthless junk, nor do you need 400 copies of the same item. But, if there is something that means a lot to you, save it. My Nana's house was clean and organized (aside from a little dust), but we came across many special things that she had saved along the years. I opened a box to find an envelope containing a hankie and the boutonniere she wore at my wedding. It meant so much knowing that those two little things were special enough to her, that she would want to save them to remember that meaningful time in both of our lives.

3. PRINT pictures.

Nothing is more fun than looking at old pictures. Some of the best and most special things I've found going through the house, were pictures of me and my Nana and Papa. With today's technology it is so easy to simply post pictures on Facebook and then forget about them. PRINT your pictures out! Organize them, and...

4. Date and label your pictures.

Just because you remember when the picture was taken, and who is in it, doesn't mean everyone else will. Write the date on the back, where it was taken, and who was in it. It may also be a good idea label any special items that you have as well. For example, the hankie and boutonniere that I found were labeled simply with a piece of paper "Hankie and flowers from Kaycee's wedding". Simple as that.

5. Leave a will.

You may not need a very meticulous will until you're older, but having something simple for your loved ones is always good idea. The will my grandmother left wasn't anything exhaustive, but if she wanted someone to have something in particular, she was sure to specify. My Nana knew that I had always coveted the amazing, bright yellow, 70's patio furniture on her back porch, and she left it to me. It is such a special piece and I was so happy to know that she wanted me to have it.

6. Leave something special for your family to find.

You don't need to go all out, P.S. I Love You-style. (If you haven't seen the movie, go see it!) Just something simple, special, and meaningful. My Nana had the most beautiful cedar chest in her bedroom where she stored all kinds of special keepsakes. As we were going through the chest, we found a sealed envelope addressed to myself, my mom, dad and sisters. Inside was the most beautiful letter. I don't think I'm ready to share it with you yet, but maybe one day. It brought a flood of tears that I still can't decipher. Probably a mix of both happy and sad, but either way, it was perfect. The timing was perfect, and I have no doubt in my mind that she was there with us as we opened it.

Life is short. Live every second to the absolute fullest. Love like you'll never love again, laugh a lot, and enjoy every moment you have on this earth.

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  1. I am sorry about your grandma.
    I agree on every one of these points, my family going through both sets of grandparents houses wasn't easy. My grandpa had Alzheimer's toward the end of his life, and we didn't know for a while but we suspected something was up when some personal valuables, pictures etc were missing. Luckily we were able to save some things from WWII etc. But he had thrown out hundreds of pictures. My maternal grandfather didn't throw out anything, i still keep his photos etc. I am so glad we have those memories with us. :) Have a great day and take care!

    1. It is so hard isn't it?! So glad you were able to save some of those special things from your grandparents house. They mean so much, but can definitely be hard to look at in the beginning. Constant reminders, but I love that I'll be able to pass them down to my kids one day :)