Living a Meaningful Life: What Will Your Loved Ones Find When You Die?

“At the end of life, at the end of YOUR life, what essence emerges? Which of your contributions have you made to the world? In remembering you, what words will others choose?” ~Amy Rosenthal

Most people believe sorting through a loved one’s belongings after death provides closure. It was an existential crisis for me.

After glancing at the angry sky in my father’s driveway for what seemed like hours, I mustered up the courage to crack open the door to the kitchen. I was stopped in my tracks by the eerie silence. Wasn’t he cooking up a storm in this cluttered kitchen just a few days ago?

The mounds were my first task. I cuddled the clothes gently and then pitched them. His fiery scent lingered in the air. The smell of his fiery cologne lingered in the air. Simply Like him.

My father’s belongings served as physical reminders of how he spent his time on Earth. Here are some of my favourites:

An old yellow newspaper clipping from his parents. A collection of family photographs, with him smiling ear to ear. An assortment of handmade cookbooks. These are frame quotes that can be used as a starting point. Mi casa es su casa.This Pottery Barn chair is a prestigious leather one, with dog claw marks. Nostalgic t-shirts from the early 90’s.

A variety of Williams-Sonoma platters that were heavily used and chipped. An entertainment center that mimicked a NASA operation center, with 70’s CDs left in the queue. Invites for neighborhood block parties. An embroidered apron which read “World’s Best Grill Master” paired with still fresh barbeque sauce stains.

Make your own recipe cards and add some quirky words to them “It’s good because it’s cooked on wood.” An entire closet of camping gear. There are leftover birthday gifts. Local North Carolinian artisans create glaze pottery. Sports memorabilia for entertainment on full display. A tender card for me

Dear Father

You’re the best dad ever! You deserve a wonderful birthday! I wish you a delicious barbecue, seventies-inspired music and pepperoncini peppers to kick off the day. You are my hero. Your hero is me. I can’t wait to celebrate with you this weekend!

My dad collected things that gave him joy. He also shared his items with others.

You may not be able to relate to him or even know of him.

It will Please be We will all see him again one day. We will. All You might be like him. Someone will eventually rummage through. Our drawers. Scary, isn’t it?

After organizing his belongings for weeks, I was unable to judge my extravagant apartment. My luggage was already at the door, so I quickly walked to my closet. I was ashamed of the items that used to make me happy, but now they make me nauseating. They would discover:

I have a closet filled with color-coordinated clothes from designer brands. A collection of scratched CDs listing my favourite nineties artists. One drawer of bright, unworn makeup. An exquisite collection of David Yurman rings and necklaces. Nordstrom receipts with wrinkles. A collection of handbags from designer brands that were gently used. There are also photos of our fair-weather friends all over.

What did they have in common? Me.


Comparing my life to my father’s led to a life-changing decision. Do I spend my money on useless items, or should I start over?

My life was a blank canvas after a brief moment of reflection. Products related to “keeping up with the Jones’s” were no longer my jam. I saved my money for amazing moments that created long-lasting joy and warm memories.

The following financial values inspired my spending decisions:

  • Find experiences that will make you feel alive.
  • Get life-changing products.
  • Invest in creative hobbies that I’m proud of.
  • Give joy to others.
  • Start celebratory activities.
  • Financial decisions should be made out of love.

After some trial and error, frivolous bags were traded for high-quality camping gear. Shopping Saturdays became baking Sundays. A most important thing was that I felt fulfilled instead of feeling inadequate.

Twelve years later, I’m happy to share that I continue to evaluate my purchases using a “Will this make a good memory?” lens. In retrospect, mending my financial habits was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Why? I’m no longer impressed by status. My preference is for art, learning, the outdoors, and not shopping. My life fills me with meaning, purpose and long-term fulfillment.

I do know that many commodities overpromise and underdeliver on their own, unless you create a memorable memory of them. We only have fleeting moments to be happy with materialistic goods. However, sharing beautiful moments with people can bring you long-lasting joy.

While you won’t find many luxurious products in my house now, you Will find:

For sunny days in the park, a four-person picnic bag is ideal. There are many bird feeders. You can share this fine collection of tea with your friends. Bath bombs made from homemade ingredients for birthdays Color-coordinated self-improvement books. Exfoliants made from sea salt that smell like a spa. Decorate your holiday with cheer.

A variety of vision boards and bucket list options. A variety of seasonal candles. Bathroom drawer stocked with shampoo, soap, and lotions to pamper overnight guests. An assortment of handmade scrapbooks that feature beloved characters.

An emerald green trekking hiking backpack for outdoorsy adventures. Tickets for the Crinkled Aquarium Family cookbooks handwritten. For a flowering garden, seeds The library has a cozy theme and is hygge. For nomadic adventures, a brightly colored hybrid bike. Untold board games in my closet. My most treasured possession is a card that John, my beloved father, sent me.

Happy Graduation, Britti!

Your dad and I are proud of you. Your head is high. Your young lady is beautiful and so fun. I have learned a lot from you. Your friendship is so special to me. Our time together is precious to me and I will be there for you always! It’s not always easy, but, you have a lot of love around you. You will be blessed by the blessings of life. Follow your dreams and spread your wings!

Love Dad

It is really about when one organizes. YouWhat will you find in your belongings?

Brittany Powell

Brittany Powell founded, an online community that helps people create meaningful lives. Brittany’s work has appeared in various publications, including Voyage Phoenix and Shoutout Arizona. Visit Positivity pledge to learn how you can build a meaningful life. Follow her Insta-worthy activities every day.

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The post Living a meaningful life: How will your family and friends find you when you’re gone? Tiny Buddha first published this post.

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