Ideas for Family Heirlooms

At Moloney Family Funeral Homes, we are committed to helping our neighbors in and around Long Island, Central Islip, and Lake Ronkonkoma during life’s most difficult times.

Vintage loft room with antique rocking chair, broadcast radio, oRecognizing all the important decisions leading up to a funeral and afterwards as well, we serve our friends and neighbors every step of the way. This includes offering advice and ideas regarding questions many families face after a death – such as what to do with family heirlooms.

After a loved one dies, it’s common to sort through possessions and make decisions about how to handle certain items. This simple act can help with processing emotions during a difficult time. Looking through keepsakes, photographs, and handwritten cards and notes while reminiscing about good times spent with friends and family members can brighten up a dark season of mourning.

What are family heirlooms?

Family heirlooms are keepsakes that are kept within a family for generations. When someone dies, their belongings need to find a new home. In certain instances, making decisions becomes complicated and stressful, especially when more valuable items like jewelry and other collectibles are involved. This can be difficult terrain to navigate, especially when a lot of family members are involved in the process and devoted to seeing certain outcomes. To make it easier, start by taking stock of all the family heirlooms you have at your disposal before involving other family members in decision-making.

If you’re still unsure about what a family heirloom is, our staff has assembled this list of ideas to offer more clarification.

Common family heirlooms

A family heirloom can be any item meaningful enough to pass down from generation to generation. Some common examples are:

  • Jewelry

Heirloom jewelry can include engagement rings and statement jewelry pieces featuring diamonds and other precious stones.

  • Furniture

A well-made wooden rocking chair or handcrafted bed can be in a family for decades.

  • Books

Family Bibles and first-edition novels are often kept in the family.

  • Recipes

Handwritten recipe cards are one of the most shareable family heirlooms. Easy to save and pass on, recipes can bring back memories of a loved one via the simple act of cooking their favorite side dish or entrée.

  • Wedding apparel and vintage clothing

Wedding gowns and veils are often saved for their sentimental value. Vintage clothing can evoke a different time period and style of clothing that calls to mind older or deceased family members.

  • Handmade quilts and embroidered linens

Some of the most valuable heirlooms are handmade items like quilts and embroidered pieces. Often displayed as wall art, a handmade quilt is a deeply personal object worth holding onto.

We hope this list inspires you to approach family heirlooms with sensitivity and keep the “long view” in mind when deciding what to do with them. We’ve talked to people who have discarded items while mired in grief – only to regret it later on. Others have so much trouble knowing what to do that they hold onto everything, which creates a stress all its own. We encourage you to lean on family and friends for support if you find yourself in a situation where you’re making decisions about heirlooms or other family possessions.

Remember that our staff at Moloney Family Funeral Homes is always here to answer questions from our New York neighbors.