The Permission to Let Go

For more than two decades, I have cleaned out other people’s estates and enjoyed the reward of knowing we really do make a difference in people’s lives.  As complicated and contentious as the dis-assembly of a loved one’s estate can be, I have learned that the issues that arise during the process come from much more than grief or even greed.

When I am consulting with a family – usually children who are dealing with the aftermath of losing their parent(s) – I can see their very personal struggle, trying to decide what to keep and what to let go.  Many deal with guilt issues and feel compelled to hold on to the items mom so dearly cherished.  I can see that the children do not cherish these items; they become resentful at having to bring them home, even though they have no room for them.

What most people need is permission.

  • Permission to surrender, to relinquish, to let go and find a new home for these items.
  • Permission to accept that these are not the kind of things you may want to keep for yourself or the grandchildren.
  • Permission to not pass the buck to the next generation.

When you boil it all down, it seems to be the one issue the kids don’t even realize they are experiencing, until I say, “It’s ok to let go of it.”  They know instinctively that I know what they are thinking.  Most of the time, a look of awareness hits them, and they just say, “Thank you.  I really needed to hear that.  How did you know I needed someone to give me permission?”

But the “permission to let go” affects many areas of our lives, not just personal possessions.

It finally dawned on me after living on this planet for over 5 decades.  Most of life seems to be about embrace, surrender, and then oddly enough, letting go.  It just seems that life has been a series of fabulous blessings, ups and downs, disappointments, tremendous joys, profound sadness, frustrations, surrender, and …. when the time is right, letting go.

  • Letting go of your small child headed to kindergarten for the first time.
  • Letting them take the car keys.
  • Letting them go off to college.
  • Letting go of our own youth as time marches on.
  • Letting go of a loved one at the end of their life.

It is part of the cycle of life.

It takes introspection, strength, mindfulness, awareness, and while we are at it, a few thousand tears.

I’m writing this as I hear the jingle of keys.  My teenager just shouted up to me, “Bye, Mom!”, jumping in the car along with her newfound freedom, a big smile, and a spring in her step.  It is a bittersweet thing and an almost impossible balance: to be happy for her, on the one hand.  Yet seeing the beautiful adult emerging, I know I must let go of the child in her,  even though I don’t really want to.  Here come a few more tears …

But even I know that all butterflies take flight when they are ready.  We must also be mindful of all the letting go and sacrifices our previous relatives have done for us.

You probably know someone, if not yourself, who is in the process of letting go of something or someone.  Letting go can either be a huge struggle or a freeing experience.  I hope it is the latter for each of us.

Letting go.  What a beautiful gift, if we can find the strength!

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising.  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at


3 thoughts on “The Permission to Let Go

    1. Debbi, I guess I got smart from the “School of hard knocks!” I thank you for your kind words. Best, Julie

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