Family heirlooms are bequeathed when we die, but what happens to the other things we leave behind? Andrea Codrington Lippke examines the ways in which our most ordinary household objects continue their lives after we’re gone.
There is an unsettling time after the death of a loved one during which inanimate possessions become unmistakably alive—more alive, in fact, than the person to whom they once belonged. I experienced this last October when, over a 10-day period of home hospice care, my mother went from being a familiar, though very ill, presence, to an entirely alien absence.
A week later, I was expecting a rush of emotions when I sorted through those possessions that were most emblematic of her and was confused by the fact that I felt practically nothing as I made piles to throw away, give away or keep myself. What I wasn’t prepared for was my reaction to the random array of everyday objects that populated her side of the bathroom vanity.
Words:Andrea Codrington Lippke
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