We are an aging population across Louisiana. Our family structure is tight and traditions are strong. The bond between parents and children is really like no other place I have ever lived. That brings up a question that many of us have either had to face or will be facing in the coming years.

What should I do with my parent's stuff when they pass on?

My mom and dad had countless pieces of furniture, a piano, paintings and a lifetime's worth of books, magazines, and mementos. As grown children, my brothers and I had already stocked our homes with our own furniture and items. There was no room for stuff from the family homestead.

Should we sell it? Should we keep it? Should we pay to store it? If so, why? Do we just throw it out? Oh, my gosh, the horror of throwing out the books my father loved.

Richard Eisenberg is the Money and Work Editor for Next Avenue.com. He recently wrote a piece and a follow-up piece on this very subject. As you might imagine emotions ran high on this question.

There were suggestions of garage sales, donations, free for all tossing parties, and of course, there were reactions that voiced a need to hang on to the past.

Have you had to face this issue? What did you do?

In our situation the valuable antiques and certain special items we did hold on to. Other items were donated to organizations that could use them. We had a garage sale and it may have been the most depressing day of my life. To see items my parents loved being sold for a nickel or less.  Then again we did throw away several dumpster loads of other items.

Is it a case of heart-over-head, or should it be head-over-heart? I can only suggest that if your parents are still with us here on Earth you help them downsize now. That will give you less work and more peace of mind in the future.