Boxes of Stuff

A dear friend of mine recently suffered the loss of a family member, her sweet mother-in-law.  Though Opal was 89 years old and ready to be in heaven with Jesus, it was still a huge loss of someone dear.  I’d had the privilege of meeting Opal and visiting with her several times over the past few years each time she came to visit. Her love for her family and the Lord was evident in every conversation.

My friend shared with me how difficult it was on their family, going through all of the belongings, dividing them up with the other family members and closing up the house.  Afterward she was struck at the result of Opal’s long life being condensed to a single box of things for each of the grown children, one of which was now at her home.

Of course it reminded me of when my son died and all of his belongings were shipped to our home.  First it was four trunks from Iraq, and then a big crate and two more trunks came from Hawaii where he had been stationed during his army career.  Some things were easy to go through, beat up single-guy furniture and surfing magazines – no problem. It took some time and many tears to go through the personal items but we managed to go through them all. His brother took the things he wanted and we gave a few items to a cousin or two. Most all of it we kept, but we did get the number of trunks down a couple and probably could do more, but the willingness to do so has not come as yet.

When we step back and see that our loved one’s whole life whether 23 short years or 89 long years, the question is the same.  How can someone so amazing be whittled down to a box or two? It doesn’t seem possible, yet if we step back a bit further, we know that the box is not the person, it is just a box full of stuff.  Granted, full of our loved ones’ stuff, but it’s still only stuff.

Opal was much bigger, much more precious than any box could hold.  Her memory is too. My son’s life, though only 23 years long, was so much bigger and far more dynamic than any trunk could hold.  Thank goodness we can’t put our memories in a box and store them away.

Thoughts and memories of Garrett, funny things he said or did, come to me daily.  I really never know what will bring a memory to mind, but they are always welcome and cherished.  I’m fairly certain that is the case with my friends’ family as well.

There have been quite a few more families in my community experiencing this very thing lately.  Losing a cherished loved one, going through and boxing up their things. We all have to face this from time to time in our lives.

Thankfully, we hold their memories in our hearts and that can never be boxed.  Because the truth is, the boxes hold their earthly treasures and we know our loved ones, as believers in Jesus Christ,  are in heaven where the real treasure lies.

Matthew 6:19–21  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”


4 thoughts on “Boxes of Stuff

  1. I thought the same thing when my mother died. It will be three years May 31st. I have many of her things displayed in my house, while Shawn and my Aunt have the rest. Every time I see one, it brings back a memory, and a tear or two! With the lose of my grandfather last month, our family is down to 4 close members on my mom’s side. It is hard to think now I am one of the oldest.


    1. Isn’t it nice that we can just see the box and our heart is filled with memories. We might leak a tear or two but mostly we smile. I’m happy it spoke to you. P.


  2. Oh, so very true. When our son Brad died in 1980, I put everything in trunks. It took only 2 of them since he was short of 2 years old….but it took me 37 years to open them for the very first time. We moved several times, we stored them in various places. I looked at them with both precious and sad memories. That “brave” day I did not go through everything in the trunks. I just sat and stared at the contents remembering the toys he loved, the clothes that he wore and the blankets that kept him warm during Winter……….I can’t explain the closeness during those few minutes. I shut the trunks and still have them within sight. A long time has passed….my heart still has a void in it and my arms feel empty and numb at times, but I learned that God was with me then even though I was not a Christian. I will see Brad again when my time comes to go home.


    1. Thank you for sharing your heart. Isn’t it amazing the comfort we can feel just from knowing the trunk is near. But oh, the day of the reunion! What a day that will be!


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