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You (Really) Can’t Take Any of It With You

Pearl, my soul-bird, sits on top of the fluffy pillow and beside the precious narwhal stuffed animal….I can’t imagine death without them!

I’m not sure what I was thinking, but somehow in the back of my mind I hadn’t really put two and two together….until yesterday.

This was the day I crawled into bed and snuggled up tight in my cozy covers, with my comfy pillows and oh-so-cuddly “goodnight sheep” throw, and suddenly the question arose.

Where would I sleep after I die?

Specifically, what would I sleep on? And with?

(The question of would I sleep didn’t even enter the picture – discovering a great beyond with no sleeping would clearly indicate I made a wrong turn somewhere).

I opened my eyes and looked around my bedroom. My beloved parrot, Pearl, was sleeping quite peacefully in his casa in the corner. I couldn’t take him – or his cage – or his cage covers.

Slowly I catalogued everything – nope, couldn’t take the adorable turquoise dresser with the sunflower yellow pulls I found in a thrift shop for $12. I couldn’t take the cute fluffy pillow my friend gave me that rests on top of it, or the precious narwhal stuffed animal on top of that.

Or my sweetly scented night jasmine candle (sob) or any of the wide variety of houseplants scattered around the space, all busy cleaning my air while I snore. 

I couldn’t take my wonderful plush rug or any of the clothes in my nearby closet. I couldn’t take my fabulous art or the coffee machine (I was so looking forward to my morning coffee already….)

[Wait a minute. No coffee? Okay, take me off the “afterlife list.”]

This was all just mind-blowing. I really couldn’t wrap my mind around the totality of the separation between me-now and me….wherever. If I will even still be me.

Will I miss these things – these many things (except for Pearl) I was so sure up until now that I wouldn’t miss one little bit?

I couldn’t take my new teal laptop or its matching teal laptop stand. How would I write and express myself? What would I do when something inside me needed to come out and I didn’t have any tools to help it with?

My ever-lengthening love affair with minimalism and all things tiny living sure has worked me over – in the sense I had clearly confused “less stuff” with “non-attachment to stuff.”

I am clearly very attached to the small collection of careful curated everything that I spend my days and nights with.

I am going to miss every bit of it – the cheerful coffee cup with the two birds on it, the fluffy couch pouf I rest my legs on (a housewarming gift from a friend) while watching Netflix on my small flat screen television at night…..

The wind chimes that hang just outside my front door, and the collection of “lawn turtle” ornaments that resides just under the single teal porch chair.

You mean I really can’t take any of it – NOTHING?

It boggles the mind. I am having a really hard time even considering letting go. I feel like I need to go around to every one of these (mostly) inanimate possessions and apologize to them for not being able to take them with me.

“It’s not my fault,” I need to explain – “I would if I could. ‘They’ say it isn’t allowed. I will miss you very much. If anyone down here on Earth mistreats you let me know and I will come and haunt them.”

Saying goodbye is apparently very hard to do – much harder than I knew.

Today’s Takeaway: Despite how this post my sound, I’m actually pretty healthy and don’t foresee conking off anytime particularly soon. But I have been surrounded by quite a bit of “end of life conversation” in these past several months, both from touring retirement communities with my folks and from other end-of-life planning activities that have been unfolding here and there in my life. And it just feels like something worth looking at – albeit really challenging to look at – who is “me” without my “stuff?” Will I even know myself? A question for another post, clearly….I would love to hear your thoughts as I ponder more!

You (Really) Can’t Take Any of It With You

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2018). You (Really) Can’t Take Any of It With You. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Apr 2018
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