This week I worked with a family whose dad had passed away and their mom had been moved to Assisted Living 2 years prior. Like many families in similar situations, they had left the house for 2 years, not knowing what to do with the contents. I was hired to be their engine, moving the process forward.

The four adult children and I met yesterday at the house. The goal? Just to restart the process. I needed to see where they were emotionally, and they needed to reacquaint themselves with the contents and what was left. In the beginning was chaos – two people in the attic, one in the master bedroom, one in the den, each person having their own agenda.

But this initial chaos was necessary, they needed to get to the things that were important to them and feel the feelings they needed to feel. I provided minimal guidance, “Do you want to keep it? Or not keep it? We need to keep it simple.” I provided boxes into which they put their keepsakes. After about an hour we shifted to a more orderly process where we went room by room and made sure everyone had a chance to see what was there and to say yes, or no. Keep it or don’t keep it. One simple question.

It was truly heartening that they talked with one another and didn’t argue. “The best things in life aren’t things,” so it is said. It’s relationships. They talked with one another – do you want this? remember this? Why did they keep this?

In the end, we had touched everything in the house. And realizing this was the last time all 4 would be in the house together, we took a picture – randomly sitting on the couch. They recalled a similar picture, possibly on that very couch with the four of them years before when they were kids.

In the end, we made a plan for the next steps and I feel like they left with their good memories, the important keepsakes, and their bonds with one another intact. It was a good day. I was honored to be a part of it.