First things first, Linda..
Of course, each person is different, and each one of us survivors has a unique time frame for managing the "left behinds". For me, I would purge or gift or hoard in varying levels of intensity and emotions, sometimes delving in and clearing out swaths, and other times collapsing in tears, unable to move forward for months---the pile would just sit untidily where I'd left it. My husband was the oldest of 6 kids, and raised by an aunt and uncle and their 3 kids after his mother died when he was 12 (my father-in-law was a fireman, so had the 4 day on, 3 day off shift). As a result, there was a vast supply of siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews to absorb his personal effects. Several months after his passing, we had a "Joe-fest", and everyone took the items they'd felt close to: perhaps they'd given him something for a gift, or run in that race with him (he had a huge t-shirt collection), or went to the same college, etc. One of his brothers was just starting a new job at a bank, and he was a perfect fit for all of Joe's business suits, shirts, ties (except two that my daughters wanted and tied to their bedposts). Another brother was an avid fisherman and took those things. His sister took most of the special family items that had been passed down to the oldest child from their grandparents/mom--his mother's 8th grade sketchbook and journal, which she made copies of for all the grandkids. His Navy briefcase went to our bestman, a fellow military pal. His business briefcase I kept for our oldest daughter, who planned to become a lawyer (she still hasn't). I kept his military insignia and medals, and as I've posted before, I gave two of them away when his brothers got married, so that they would each have a "piece of him" for "something old". I gave all his military uniforms to the local Veteran's Museum, except one set of whites and khaki's, including the covers, and I have used those every year at school for our Veteran's Day Assembly to educate the students about the Armed Forces. They love to pose with his hat, gloves, and peacoat! For myself, I kept his LLBean coat and hat--it had his scent, and his bookmark and prayer book.
I kept HIS collection of all the anniversary cards and greeting cards/letters that I'd given him...I knew that they were in a drawer in his rolltop desk, and I read through them during those darkest of days the first couple of years....It made me feel his presence somehow.... As for the desk itself, well....it took me 8 years to touch anything in it! And then one day I woke up and said, "Wow, is this thing dusty inside--time to purge!" No tears at all, until I came to that card drawer, but the tears were short-lived that time.
His pickup truck....Yep, it took me about a year to start driving it, and only because mine had to go into the shop for a few days. It felt weird at first. Then I started using it for the dump trips and yard work, or sometimes to drive to one of our favorite lookouts and just sit there...One day after I'd taken a load of shrubbery to the slashpile, I left the truck parked in the driveway. A few hours later, I went out to get the mail and saw the truck sitting there and thought,
"Oh! Joe's home early from work!"... ... ... ... ...
As for his wedding band, I kept that, and his baptismal cross and chain he always wore (you can see it under my necklace in a scrapbook photo), plus his baby christening ring. The christening ring was a gift for my firstborn grandchild; his wedding band was stolen in a home robbery last year (along with most all of my jewelry), and I still have the cross and chain--it's really all I need now. He was also a tremendous musician, and I still have some of the instruments (the girls played them), except for his most prized guitar, a Martin. I gave that to his closest brother for his 60th birthday 2 years ago---we both cried, as there were handwritten music sheets inside, of his last composition.
Is there still more stuff to deal with after 13 years??? Uh-huh....The garage.. All those "man cave things"--gotta get to a yard sale one of these days!
Take your time, Linda, and grow with the journey. Some things shouldn't be rushed...It's ok to go at your own pace as long as you are IN THE MOMENT when you separate from those items. Embrace the things that you love, as you loved seeing Phil with them. Your life still has soooo much settling down to do--imagine a glass jar full of marbles, pebbles, sand, silt, air, and water--swirling around, and then resting while it layers out. Every so often, give the jar another shake, and see how the sediments/sentiments redistribute...Then appreciate the new pattern, re-arrange the materials, sort out the excess, and begin anew again!
Lastly, :hug: :hug: :hug: :praying: