Downsizing: Sister Stress
Just what makes siblings so different? Is it environmental or something in their DNA? Andria pondered this question as she discussed downsizing and her upcoming move and estate sale with her senior move manager. Andria was of the mind that most things were just that – THINGS – possessions that could be replaced, updated or just gotten rid of. Her sister Linda, however felt many “things” were treasures and was a great keeper of what Andria referred to as “stuff.” This different outlook had been an issue between the sisters on and off over the years but now that Andria was making a major life change, it was a source of stress.
As children, Andria and Linda had often visited their grandparents’ home in North Carolina. When their grandparents passed, Andria and Linda’s mother had had everything from their house shipped to Maryland. Living conditions became a bit tight in the family home as all the grandparents’ belongings were squeezed in. Linda and mother were comfortable but Andria felt claustrophobic. Later, when their mother passed, Linda took many things from the family home and didn’t understand why Andria only wanted a few pieces of art. After all, there were so many treasures!
Andria had a successful sales career and had been married to Bill for 37 years. While they never had children, the couple traveled extensively and had been quite happy. When Bill died suddenly, it shook Andria to her core. She took time to grieve but came to realize the need to downsize. Andria wanted to retire, focus on her hobbies and travel more. She was ready to sell the big house and move into a condo with new furnishings–a fresh start for the next chapter of her life. When Andria filled the family in on her plans, sister Linda was determined to correct her thinking.
Linda told Andria she needed to keep everything from her life with Bill: the furniture, artwork, dishes, knick-knacks, rugs – out of respect to his memory. Andria made it clear to Linda she was determined to move forward and except for a few mementos, all items in her and Bill’s home would be sold. As Linda’s house was already overfilled, Andria did not offer her sister any of her and Bill’s belongings.
Still, Linda did cause Andria to second guess herself. Was she making the right decision? Could she trust the senior move manager she’d chosen to help with the downsizing and move? What if no one showed up for the estate sale? Would the house sell quickly? And so on.
Andria did some further soul searching and decided to trust her instincts to downsize and sell most of her and Bill’s belongings. Andria had done her research and felt very comfortable with the senior move manager she had chosen, even attending one of the company’s estate sales. Linda, however, wasn’t quite finished. She offered to attend the estate sale to be sure things were done “correctly” – an offer Andria quickly declined.
During the estate sale, Andria was able to sell most of her and Bill’s belongings and donated the rest. After obtaining a good price for her and Bill’s home, she moved into a freshly furnished condo amid minimum clutter. Now retired, Andria is sure she made the right decision for herself and feels Bill would approve. As for Linda, the sisters have agreed to disagree.
AUTHOR: The owner of Chesapeake Transitions, Marilyn Leek is a Certified Senior Move Manager® who has been providing support and guidance for Maryland seniors and their families for over a decade.