Making decisions about what to do with a lifetime’s worth of possessions is a task everyone (or their family) will have to deal with at some point. While it might not be time to move from your existing home into smaller quarters just yet, these real-life examples provide food for thought. Please note, names have been changed.

The Collections

When it came time for Rita to leave her single-family home for a senior community, she hired a senior move manager to assist. Her house was neat as a pin but when emptying cabinets, drawers and closets, it became obvious Rita had amassed a huge candle collection. Gathered together, it completely covered the dining room table plus two card tables. Rita laughed and admitted for years she’d been buying candles and then saving them for the “perfect” occasion. Luckily, her candle collection was a draw at an estate sale for those looking for unique, specially colored or floating candles.

Recently widowed, Donna lived in a large, well-appointed home that showcased her impeccable taste. The basement, however, had been her late husband’s domain. The stairwell, papered with fishing posters, led to an angler’s dream: sinkers of every shape and weight; line of every length and strength; nets for every fish imaginable; rods and reels along with fishing hats and waders. There was even an area devoted to lure making. While neat and well organized, Donna was still faced with what to do with the tackle store in her basement. An estate sale highlighting her husband’s impressive collection thrilled enthusiastic anglers while clearing out the basement. 

Family Not Interested 

For over 40 years, Betty had stored her children’s memorabilia as well her grandmother’s. Items ranged from sports trophies, team photos, prom gowns and favorite toys to a set of 1920s china. When it was Betty’s time to downsize from the large family home to a new two-bedroom condo, she called a family meeting. She asked her children and grandchildren to tag the items they wanted. Surprise — nothing got tagged! Once Betty got over the shock (and past a tinge of hurt feelings), she felt better when an estate sale transferred these items into the hands of people who wanted them. 

From Loss to New Chapter

In the space of two years, Anita lost an adult child, husband of 35 years and her mother who had been living with them for six years. Reeling from the losses, she gratefully accepted her son’s offer to move in with him and his wife in another state. While looking forward to a new life chapter, Anita still faced dealing with a house full of possessions and to do with them. Not sure quite where to start, Anita decided she needed some professional help. With compassionate assistance, Anita was able to sort through her family’s belongings, deciding what she wanted to take with her and what she could sell or donate. The process brought both tears and laughter but once Anita got into a rhythm, it moved quickly. An estate sale finished emptying the house and she was on a plane to her new life within two months. 

Downsizing, no matter the circumstances, can be a daunting task as these examples show. Hiring a caring professional to help sort, organize and manage an estate sale can not only speed the process up but greatly reduce the stress.

The owner of Chesapeake Transitions, Marilyn Leek, is a Certified Senior Move Manager®. Her company has been providing downsizing, day-of-move and estate sale services for Maryland seniors and their families for over a decade.

Please support OutLook by the Bay with a subscription.

OutLook by the Bay magazine and this website are made possible through the support of our advertisers and subscribers. We guarantee you’ll learn something new each issue. Please subscribe today.