When a close relative or friend of yours passes away, you will go through a tough grieving stage. Grieving differs from one person to another, but it is important to have someone to support you during this hard period. One factor that is similar to all grieving cases is the deep attachment to items that belonged to the deceased.
We feel so emotionally attached to those items that it will be so difficult (maybe impossible) to let them go. It is absolutely normal to keep some items as a memory from our loved ones, but how much is too much? My friend referred me to (N.M) 6 months ago who wanted my advice: They still keep their mother’s paintings, large antiques, and other small items, in their small apartment even though she has passed away 7 years ago.
N.M was not willing to give away any of these items, even though they are affecting their lives on a daily basis. Space is very scarce in their home and they needed the extra bedroom (where the mother’s things are placed) for an expected baby. So, in order to convince N.M to let go of some items, I told them the story about my nan’s tweezers.
The story goes like this:
My nan was the most elegant, sophisticated, loving grandmother in the world. She was a respected figure in the community and was known for her beauty and wisdom. She was loved by every member of my family and going to her house during the weekends was a delight to me, my siblings and my cousins.
Unfortunately, she had Rheumatoid Arthritis the last 10 years of her life, which affected her knee joints. She stayed most of her time in bed but was able to move around the house with her walker.
My nan had a very distinctive scent that was similar to baby skin. It was so comforting and soothing, that I used to love lying beside her and talk to her for hours and hours.
I lived with her during my studies at university, and managed to catch up with her the last 3 years of her life. Her health deteriorated the last six months and then gracefully passed away on 8th March 2005 (on International Women’s Day).
The shock, the tears, the sadness, and the pain were very distressing and blinding to the extent I can’t remember when my aunties managed to sort out her stuff! After the funeral, I started to look for at least one of her night dresses so I can keep it for myself to remember her scent, but alas, all her clothes and personal belongings were gone.
I was very mad, that I wanted to beat myself up for not being aware of what was going around me. I kept looking around the whole house to find anything that will remind me of her. Before I completely gave up, it occurred to me to look under her bed.
For my surprise, I found her tweezers. Yep. Old rusty, chipped tweezers that I am sure they were hers because she had asked me previously to pluck some of her unwanted facial hairs with these tweezers.
Could a pair of tweezers be a satisfying object for me to keep as a memory from my nan? Since that was the only item from her in the whole house, I put the tweezers in my pocket in dismay. Even though I wanted a piece of her clothing to remember her scent, my auntie told me that the best way to remember our loved ones who passed away, is by mentioning their good deeds during their lifetimes, giving charity in their names regularly, and pray for peace in their afterlives.
I carried out my auntie’s advice, but my longing need for that scent never left my mind. I tried all the perfumes in the world to match it but couldn’t find any to my satisfaction.
It was not until I gave birth to my twin daughters, when I found my nan’s scent beneath their skin! I cried that day so much and realised my mistake. We should never assume that keeping items that belonged to our loved ones will keep their memory. It is their legacy and their family members that will keep them alive among us.
Funny as it may seem, I held on to those tweezers till this very day. I still use them; they are functioning very well, probably better than any tweezers I bought later on. I can’t say I remember my nan whenever I do my eyebrows, but every time the twins sneak into my bedroom to play with my makeup things (including the tweezers), we always end up talking about my nan and how a wonderful woman she was.
N.M laughed after hearing the tweezers’ story, but I wasn’t sure if they will take my advice.
I haven’t heard of N.M for a while but was told they gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby. N.M called me a month ago, and told me: “I found a silver hairbrush among my mum’s things. I want to keep it and let go of the rest. I want my baby to have a decent nursery room. When are you available?”
I laughed this time. After that phone call, I went to my bedroom, took out the tweezers and said: “Thank you Nana. May you rest in peace.”