Aging Without Children: To whom will I give my most prized possessions?

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a package with To: ? on gift tag on "To whom will I give my most prized possessions?" on Not So Mommy..., an infertility and childless blog
WOBBLE WARNING:  The title kind-of says it all…  We’re talking about growing old without kids and who will get our most prized possessions once we’re gone.  Please, do not read if you are feeling vulnerable today.

Growing Old Without Kids . . .

I have thought about aging without children for many years.  Up until recently, I was able to push these thoughts aside, thinking that I didn’t really need to worry about that right now.  I mean, I’m young, right?  I have time to figure out all the details of growing old without kids.

But my Nana’s passing and Father’s Day and the fact that I am officially middle-aged…

I mean, I’m 44.  My Nana passed at 87.  So, I’m not really “young” anymore.  Let’s face it.  I’m middle-aged.

Well, all of this has caused the thoughts that I used to be able to push aside to come to the forefront of my mind.  I’ve continued to try and ignore them for several days.  In fact, for the past two days, I spent hours outside in the sweltering summer heat planting roses and transplanting gardenia and shoveling dirt and mulch, all in an effort to keep my mind from thinking about my Nana and my Dad and the fact that I will be growing old without kids.

But today…  Well, today, I finally feel strong enough to talk about growing old without kids.  I finally feel strong enough to think about the question, “To whom will I give my most prized possessions?”

To whom will I give my most prized possessions?

Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I attach a great deal of sentimental and emotional value to things.  As I sit at my desk typing this blog, I see a corsage that my Daddy gave me for my 8th grade Prom, a Hello Kitty magnet that my cousin’s little girl made me, a cross that my favorite nephew brought me from Mexico, a wooden butterfly that was my Nana’s, a card that my hubby gave me for our 20th wedding anniversary, flowers from my best friend’s memorial service, and more…  To most people, these trinkets would hold little value.  But for me…  Well, they mean a great deal.

But these are not the items that I wonder who will inherit…  I mean, I get that these things mean so, so much to me.  But to most, they could be sold or donated.

There is one item in particular that I want to make sure is not lost after I am gone, however–my mink coat.

My Mink Coat…

Now, before anyone gets riled up, let me explain a bit about my mink coat.  It was a gift from my Daddy when I graduated Photo of Brandi Lytle, founder of Not So Mommy... (an infertility & childless blog) and creator of the olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbonfrom college with my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Education (just two short years before my Daddy passed away).  It is not something I ever would have bought for myself.  And it is not something that Dane would have ever bought for me, either.  But my Daddy…  Well, he wanted me to have this extravagant gift.  And because he gave it to me, it is truly one of my most prized possessions.

I don’t get to wear it very often.  But I did pull it out last December and wore it when Dane and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  It was a bit extra for an Italian dinner in a small town, followed by a carriage ride to look at Christmas lights.  But I didn’t care.  If I’m honest, my Daddy was a bit extra.  And that thought makes me smile.  😊

But I digress…

So, to whom will I bequeath my mink coat after I am gone?

Should I leave my coat to my nephew?

Well, because my Daddy gave it to me, I originally thought I would leave my mink coat to my favorite nephew.  Because my Daddy is his grandpa.  My hope was that my favorite nephew would get married and have a daughter and that his wife and little girl would enjoy wearing my elegant mink coat.  But this never felt 100% right…

I mean, what if my favorite nephew never gets married?  I always say to the kids, “If you get married…”  Because I don’t want them to think that marriage is a requirement.  And even if he gets married, what if he and his wife don’t have a daughter.  Maybe they only have boys.  Or maybe they decide to be childfree by choice.  Or maybe…  Oh, I really hope this isn’t the case.  But maybe they are like me and Uncle Dane, and they can’t have children.

What about my nieces?

Now, I do have three nieces.  But I simply cannot choose which one would receive my mink coat.  They could share it.  But that just seems cumbersome.

Our exchange daughter?

And our exchange daughter…  Well, she lives in Brasil.  It is never cold enough for her to wear a mink coat!  Plus, I know she would think my mink coat is way too extra…

To whom will I give this prized possession?!

So, I was beginning to get a bit frustrated.  This coat that my Daddy gave me means so much to me!  Who am I going to give it to when I’m gone?!

For years, my Mom has tried to convince me to get my mink coat altered—to create a shorter coat and perhaps a stole out of it.  She says I could wear it more often if I did this.  And she’s right.  But I just haven’t been able to bring myself to cut up that gorgeous coat that my Daddy chose just for me…

A different perspective, a new plan…

But just this week, I thought that maybe I could have it altered (once I’m much older) so that I could leave a piece of my mink coat to each of my five kiddos—my favorite nephew, our three nieces, and our exchange daughter.  I mean, my favorite nephew loves to go to black powder shoots.  Maybe he would wear a mink scarf or a mink hat to these events?  And our exchange daughter…  She might get some use from a scarf, too.  As for my nieces…  Perhaps a shrug or a vest…  I’ll have to see what they think they’d wear.  And I’ll have to consult a qualified tailor to see how many items can be created from my mink coat.  But those details can be worked out in the future…  Oh, I feel much better about this new plan!

You know, thinking about my mink coat has made me realize that those of us growing old without kids…  Well, there is so much to think about!  But we childless are strong and we can figure it out.  We just have to give it some thought, think outside the box, and develop a plan that we feel comfortable with…

Thanks for listening, fabulous ones.  Sending you so many hugs…

If anything I wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, tell us about it in the comments…

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Anise August 7, 2021 - 8:04 am

I really enjoyed this post, and it resonated with me. (I love your creative idea for a solution!) I have thought about this, too, and I just think what will end up happening is everything I own will be donated to charity or get thrown away. Unless I become so culturally significant that a museum is created in my honor and my belongings will be catalogued and displayed, but the likelihood of that happening dims with each passing day! 😂 The thought of my “things” disappearing and being scattered when I’m gone doesn’t grieve me as much as it once did, since a transatlantic move a few years ago necessitated shedding a lot of belongings, triggered a new way of thinking about “my things.” I ended up donating a lot, and heard later about how appreciated those items were by the church they went to. I also read about someone who found her solution by photographing and blogging about each important item before she had to discard them, so the memory would live on in a sort of digital scrapbook. I kind of like that idea, as well. I like your tip about Kennedy’s Angel Gowns; I’ll look into that. Thanks for this discussion, it means a lot!

Brandi Lytle August 9, 2021 - 3:25 pm

Anise, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment, sharing your perspective. I love the idea of the “digital scrapbook.” I have many a photo of important things that I knew I needed to let go of, but wanted a way to remember them… I do like the idea about writing a blog about these items as well. And the museum! Well, wouldn’t that be incredible?! That thought made me smile! HUGS, fellow warrior!

Anise August 10, 2021 - 8:41 am

Thank you for the hugs — sending them right back! And yes, LOL, the museum…. Not likely, but maybe one day I’ll start an online “living museum” celebrating fabulous fellow warriors where they can donate photos and blog posts of their prized belongings, so they have a place of honor in which to “live.” Could be a fun project. I’ll noodle that around a bit! 🙂

Brandi Lytle August 10, 2021 - 10:27 am

Sounds like an incredible project! I’ll submit a blog for that one! Keep me posted 🙂

Holly June 28, 2021 - 10:19 pm

I love this post and the stories in the comments as well. Y’all are all inspiring. I’ve been struggling with this as well and have started to actively decide to just enjoy things for me. It will be a long road and learning process but ultimately there is nothing wrong with enjoying something that no one will after me.

Brandi Lytle June 29, 2021 - 12:41 pm

Holly, I am so glad that you have decided to enjoy! You are right that whether or not we have someone to pass things along to ultimately doesn’t matter. We deserve to enjoy nice things for ourselves! HUGS…

Mali June 16, 2021 - 7:59 pm

I love your solution. I’ve recently inherited some jewellery, and I’m going to get it altered to my taste, as I’d never wear the pieces in their current forms. But this way I’ll get to remember the people who left the pieces to me.

I’ve been contemplating this for years (I’m older than you! lol). I wrote about it here specifically.
Since then, I lost both my mother and the in-laws and we had to distribute or dispose of entire households of stuff. It was interesting to me which things my sisters and I wanted, and what we didn’t. And it was fascinating to see what my nieces and nephews wanted from the in-laws’ house. Realising that what’s precious to me won’t be precious to someone else in my family or friends circle has lifted a real burden. Also accepting that even if we have to give things to charity shops or sell them online, someone somewhere will find these items and treasure them. That thought makes me smile too.

Brandi Lytle June 29, 2021 - 12:47 pm

Thank you for sharing this, Mali! I appreciate being reminded that even if my nieces, nephews, friends, etc. do not want certain items which I found important, someone else who discovers it in a shop or online will “treasure” them. That makes me smile, too, Mali. 🙂

Sherry Stout June 14, 2021 - 2:21 pm

Now that, my dear, is a FABULOUS idea. Your daddy is grinning…..

Brandi Lytle June 16, 2021 - 12:05 pm

That makes my heart happy…

Christin June 14, 2021 - 2:19 pm

This has been the hardest part of letting go for me personally. My mom passed in 2009, and kept collections of keepsakes, Christmas ornaments, recipes, etc for each sibling, and eventually her anticipated grandchildren. Last year when our being CNBC became definitive after a cancer diagnosis and hysterectomy, I finally had to start realizing it was time to move on. My siblings do not have children either, and these things just don’t hold sentiment for others. I’ve held on to a few pieces that remind me of my mom and being me some joy, but my husband and I took the opportunity to really talk and think about what we like, what we wanted to replace, and what we wanted to make our own and how to create our own traditions around certain belongings, holidays, and events. We ended up donating a lot, and finally deal like our home isn’t filled with triggers or the life we thought would be. The worst was a baby blanket my mom crocheted me before she passed, knowing it would be a way for her to physically be there during that special time. There were debates about framing and hanging it, letting the cats use it in their bed, keeping it tucked in the farthest recesses of our storage closet like a ticking time bomb every time I stumbled upon it, etc. I finally was able to pass that on to a friend who was expecting and whose nursery and favorite color was the same as the blanket. I do often wonder what will happen to my recipe book when I’m gone – maybe one of my nephews will enjoy it, or a newly wed at a hard sale who is learning to or loves to cook. I also grapple with a hy the heck I feel the need to hold on to my and my mother’s wedding dresses that will not be passed down or “used for parts”. I’ve tried to donate them, but just can’t take that final step – mostly because I’m hopeful I will eventually get a snowy anniversary where I can FINALLY get the wedding photo I wanted lol. I’ve come to realize that if I want to hold on to it, it’s fine, and when it starts to make me feel sad, I can let it go.

Brandi Lytle June 16, 2021 - 12:12 pm

Christin, first, let me say THANK YOU for trusting me and the Not So Mommy… community enough to be bravely vulnerable and share your truth. I am so, so sorry that you are having to struggle through childlessness and the “to whom do I give my prized possessions?” I absolutely adore that you gifted the baby blanket to a friend. I gave a ton of children’s books to a friend of mine with three littles. It brings my heart joy to know that the books are being loved and used rather than sitting in a storage bin. Like you, there are other items that I just can’t let go of yet. And that’s okay. The fact that you mentioned your wedding dress, as well as your mom’s… If you do get to the point of being ready to let go of them, I donated my wedding dress to an organization called Kennedy’s Angel Gowns. They turn wedding dresses into gowns for littles born sleeping. Here’s a link to the blog I wrote, if you’d like to learn more –

Sending you so many HUGS, Christin. So many hugs…


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