Our objects can be very important to us when we are alive and to others when we are dead. Why objects of the deceased are more important to some than to others—for example, why an old cup belonging to their recently deceased mother is of vital importance to one sister and, to the other sister, trash—is a topic I find fascinating, intriguing, engrossing, compelling . . . you get my degree of interest.
Because of that interest, I wish I could hop the pond later this month and take a seminar titled ""Digging deep: personal archaeologies" being taught by poet and former archaeologist Jo Bell. [Added later: There is no actual workshop; the exercises included in her article linked to below are what she labels a workshop.] From an article by Bell:
Approach your own archaeology by looking at the things around you now – what an archaeologist would call your "material culture". That coffee mug will survive, but the tablecloth (and the table) won't. The bottle of nail varnish, your wedding ring, your hip replacement – these will endure. Think too about your most precious objects: the ones you would wish to take with you. If most of your possessions will be erased by time, is that unsettling – or is there a kind of solidarity, an equality of dispossession? Consider what will be left of you in purely physical terms and what a future archaeologist might make of it. What kind of personal life would they extrapolate from the traces of your work or home life? What bizarre juxtapositions would be thrown up if you were preserved, Pompeii-style, in your living room?
Click to read the rest of the article from the Guardian. How would you answer some of the questions she asks? Estate attorneys, how would your clients answer? Does it matter if you know your clients' responses? Would it make a difference in how you handled their matters if you knew?
- Related books: Objects of the Dead: Mourning and Memory in Everyday Life and Evocative Objects: Things We Think With
- Related posts: "Wills are a tapestry of humanity": Storytelling in estate planning and will writing and Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate? An online guide to passing on personal belongings