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upworthy

compassion

Family

Younger generations are torn over inheriting boomer heirlooms. Here are 4 helpful tips.

The generational divide on this front is a big one, but there are better and worse ways to navigate it.

There are kind and gentle ways to handle hand-me-downs.


As the baby boomer generation reaches their "golden years," many of them are starting to think about what to do with their earthly possessions, much to the chagrin of some of their Gen X, millennial and Gen Z descendants.

How many of us really want to take over our grandma's collection of dolls or plates when we have no interest in collecting ourselves? How many people have homes filled with furniture we actually like, only to be offered antiques and heirlooms that we have neither the desire nor room for? What about china sets, artwork and other things our elders have loved that they want to see passed down in the family that no one in the family really wants?


It's a delicate road to navigate, as a post on X illustrated. Jodi-Ann Quarrie shared a screenshot of a story a man shared about his wife fighting with his mother-in-law about the china sets she wanted her children to have. She had four adult children and four sets of china for them to divvy amongst themselves, but all four kids refused. An argument ensued about how none of the china had ever been used, even on special occasions, and culminated in the wife telling the mother-in-law that she was going to use the plates as frisbees after she dies.

People's reactions to the story were mixed. Some pointed out that there's no reason for someone to say something so cruel to a family member (or anyone, for that matter). Others felt that the mother-in-law was being unreasonable by not accepting no for an answer.

Extreme as the story may have been, there is a clear generational divide between the post-Depression era folks who think passing down heirlooms is generous and the generations that are accustomed to replacing things every few years because of planned obsolescence. There is also a divide between people who attach their life story to their belongings to the point that if their things aren't valued then neither are they, and people who don't tie memories or sentimentality to material things at all.

How do we bridge these divides? Each family dynamic and situation is different, of course, but here are four principles to keep in mind if you're on the receiving end of an heirloom offer you don't really want.

1) Don't diminish the value—either monetary or sentimental—of what an elder is offering.

These things may mean nothing to you, but they obviously mean something to the person who wants you to have. There's no need to hurt their feelings by being brazen about how their outdated furniture isn't really worth anything anymore or to point out that you have no emotional attachment to it. That all might be true, but is it necessary to share that with someone who is nearing the end of their life and feeling sentimental? No. It doesn't meant you have to take it, either, but a little empathy, even if it's not how you would feel about your own belongings, goes a long way.

2) If they're trying to give you something now and you really don't want it or have room for it, offer alternatives.

It's perfectly reasonable to tell a loved one that on a practical level you simply don't have the space for something. What the person usually wants is to know that a piece of them is going to be carried on as a physical memory and proof of their existence, so offer them a way to do that in a way that works for you.

Try something like this: "I would love to have something of yours that is meaningful that we can pass down, but we already have all the furniture we are able to manage—is there something like a piece of jewelry or a photo album or something else that we could pick out together as an heirloom for our side of the family?"

3) Be kind about their wishes while they're still here.

It's not easy getting older, and people's feelings about their life and death are worthy of consideration and compassion. If it brings an older person joy to see belongings they value being passed down while they're still alive, it might be worth letting them have that joy. Again, they might just want to know that their memory is going to live on.

It's difficult for us to imagine what it's like to be old when we're young, but it's not too hard to understand the desire to be remembered. That desire manifests differently for different people. Kindness can look like taking the items with gratitude and waiting until they pass away to give them away. It can also be gently refusing them for now, telling them it makes you happy to see them enjoying their things, and reassuring them that you'll make sure their items are taken care of when they're no longer here. (Taking care of doesn't mean keeping, but they don't necessarily need to know that detail. Honesty must be balanced with tact and thoughtfulness here.)

4) You are not obligated to hold onto something someone gave you, especially after they are gone. (But also, stay open to the idea that you might want to.)

No one is obligated to hold onto anything they don't really want. You also don't have to tell the person that you're not planning to keep their stuff—let them be at peace about it while they're here. It's perfectly okay to let go of their material things after they're gone. It's highly unlikely that they're going to care at that point.

However, it's also wise to stay open to the idea that you might actually want some of the things a loved one gives you after they pass. We never know how grief and loss are going to impact us, regardless of our relationship with someone, and sometimes people regret getting rid of all of their family members' belongings too quickly. It might be wise to just say yes to some things for now (if you are able to) and then decide what to do with them later.

Again, every situation is different, so these principles may or may not apply perfectly to your own circumstances, but the central message is to be kind and compassionate. We all have a limited amount of time here that shouldn't be wasted fighting over material things.

Family

A leaked voicemail Joe Biden left for his son struggling with addiction is deeply moving

'I know you don't know what to do. I don't either. But I'm here…'

"Joe Biden" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Joe Biden left a loving voicemail to his son Hunter in 2018, which Sean Hannity shared on Fox News.

Drug addiction is brutal, both for the person addicted and for their loved ones. Addiction can destroy lives, tear apart families and wreak havoc on communities. Anyone who has dealt with addiction themselves or has tried to help a friend or family member through it knows how hard it can be and how helpless it can feel.

Anger, confusion and frustration are natural responses to the behaviors of a person struggling with addiction. So are love, compassion and empathy when you understand the nature of addiction. Parents of people struggling with substance abuse often feel a constant push and pull between all of those feelings, but at the end of the day, every loving parent just wants their child to be OK.

When Sean Hannity aired a leaked 2018 voicemail message from Joe Biden to his son, Hunter, on his Fox News show, the world got a glimpse of the emotional weight of addiction and the unconditional love of a parent who doesn't know how to help their child stuck in the throes of addiction.


In the voicemail, which was obtained by the Daily Mail, we hear an emotional Biden telling his son that he loved him, that he needed to get help and that he was there for him.

"It's Dad. I called to tell you I love you. I love you more than the whole world, pal. You gotta get some help. I know you don't know what to do. I don't either. But I'm here, no matter what you need … I love you."

Hannity called the voicemail "sad," and then tried to use it to make Biden look bad. “Now that voicemail reportedly came at the exact same time Hunter lied on a gun application to buy a handgun,” he said.

However, rather than seeing it as damning, people reacted to the recording with overwhelming support. Those who have struggled with addiction, and those who have loved ones who have, simply saw a concerned father reaching out to a struggling son with compassion and love.

For instance, former NBA star Rex Chapman, who went through a very public struggle with opioid addiction, wrote on Twitter, "As a recovering drug addict I can’t tell you how mean spirited this feels … They’re exploiting a dad’s love for his son who’s troubled. Wow. I guess no one at Fox News knows any of these opioid addicts across the country."

Chapman pointed out that the Biden family has endured unfathomable tragedy, with Hunter Biden losing his mom and sister in a car accident and losing his brother to brain cancer.

"The fact of the matter is that many addicts have family members who can’t or won’t say these words to them. Who only judge. Hunter is very lucky to have a dad like this," he shared. "If only every addict were so lucky…"

Actor and journalist Ben Dreyfuss shared that he'd gotten calls like this from his family when he was struggling with drugs and mental health issues and that the audio made him want to cry. "Joe Biden seems like a really good dad?" he wrote.

The bafflement at how this voicemail could possibly make Biden look bad came from across the political spectrum. Conservative commentator Bill Kristol simply wrote, "The fact that Fox News thinks this reflects badly on Joe Biden says it all."

And conservative writer Megan Basham of The Daily Wire wrote, "This is nothing to sneer at. It's been quite a number of years, but I've been on the receiving end of calls like this from my parents. Praying today for Hunter's salvation."

Surveys have shown that about half of American families report being touched by addiction, and addiction doesn't discriminate between political parties or points of view. What reactions to this voicemail show is that a father reaching out to his drug-addicted child with a message of concern and unconditional love is heart-wrenching, but also relatable for so many people.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to love a person through addiction, but it's important for every human being to know that they are loved and that their loved ones are going to be there for them, no matter what struggles they face.

This message from Biden to his son should have remained private. But since it's out there, let's acknowledge it for the beautiful example of parental love that it is.

A wheelchair user offered some helpful tips for how to interact with them in daily life.

One of the best things about social media—besides the hilarious cat videos—is how it gives us all an opportunity to learn from one another. The ability to share an experience or a piece of wisdom or advice and have it be carried far and wide can be incredibly useful, especially when it comes from someone whose voice may not be heard as often as it should.

A perfect example is a recent thread by Ada Hubrig (@AdamHubrig) on Twitter explaining how and how not to interact with a person in a wheelchair. Hubrig says using a wheelchair has been "life-changing in the best way" for them, but the way they are treated when they are using a wheelchair can be annoying, frustrating, hurtful or just downright weird.

Some people don't have regular interactions with people who use wheelchairs and may have questions about what's appropriate and what's not. Some people might make assumptions about people using wheelchairs or be completely oblivious to how their prejudices are impacting their behavior. Hubrig's thread not only clarified some common issues wheelchair users deal with, but also opened up the conversation for people to ask some of the less obvious questions.


Hubrig opened their thread by explaining that they actually love their wheelchair, as they can't stand or walk for more than 10 minutes without it. However, they loathe how people treat them when they're using it.

Then they shared some tips on how to do better:

"First, remember that wheelchair users are people," they wrote. "We are more similar to you than different, we're just sitting down while you're standing up. You're likely around other people who are sitting as you stand all the time. Don't make it weird."

"Second, remembering that we're people, respect our autonomy," they continued. "If we're speaking and you have a question for me, don't ask my partner who is standing. As an example, medical professionals will often ask my partner my symptoms when I am RIGHT THERE. Please notice us."

The third piece of advice was to never touch a person's wheelchair or other mobility or medical advice unless you have been given permission. Hubrig said that people will often just roll them out of the way.

Yeah, don't do that. You wouldn't pick up a standing person and move them out of the way (hopefully). Same concept.

Hubrig went on to explain that no one is entitled to anyone else's medical history or trauma. "I get that you may mean well, but asking 'what happened' can be more difficult for some people than you realize," they wrote. "It's a lot of emotional labor to answer."

On a related note, don't ask about people's genitals. Ever. Seriously.

A tip for parents: "Please don't let your kids crawl on me or my wheelchair. My wheelchair isn't a toy."

"I like kids mostly, I do," Hubrig wrote. "But even if we weren't in a pandemic, I don't want any stranger up in my personal space like that. Once a kid ripped my ostomy bag off me. No plz."

Also, don't make judgments about a person's need for the wheelchair. "Some wheelchair users, like myself, don't use the wheelchair full time," Hubrig wrote. "I can walk/stand about ten minutes at a time, and use a cane for short distances. If you see a wc user standing/using a cane/whatever, don't assume we're faking. We don't use a wc for fun."

Not being believed can be a major barrier to people with disabilities utilizing the tools they need to live as fully and functionally as possible. "I have talked to many people whose life would be better with a mobility device but they don't use one. Because of how we treat people who use mobility devices."

That is a tragedy.

Finally, Hubrig summed up the basics:

"1.) Wheelchair users/disabled people ARE people. Act as such.

2.) Mind your business."

Seems simple enough, but as we all know, humans have a remarkable ability to not follow simple instructions.

One of the common questions well-meaning people had was whether or not they should offer to help a person in a wheelchair if it appears they are struggling. On the one hand, you don't want to assume someone needs help just because they're in a wheelchair, but on the other, you don't want to leave them struggling if they do need help.

The consensus was that asking if someone needs help is almost always appropriate. Just don't assume they need help and jump in without asking (barring any obvious emergencies, of course).

Another question some had was whether it's appropriate to lean over or kneel down to talk to someone in a wheelchair. On the one hand, it might feel more respectful to put yourself on the same eye level as the person in the chair. On the other hand, you don't want to make them feel like you're infantilizing them. (This question was asked by a person who is hard of hearing, which adds another layer to the question as that's an accommodation that needs to be considered as well. But it was also asked by someone who simply wanted to know which wheelchair users preferred.)

Responses from wheelchair users varied a bit, but most agreed that standing was fine for brief exchanges, but pulling up a chair to talk to them at a similar height was appreciated for long conversations. It can be straining on the neck to look up at someone for long periods.

So much boils down to basic empathy and the Golden Rule. If you were using a wheelchair, what would feel rude or disrespectful or annoying? How would you want people to talk to or interact with you? The truth is any one of us may find ourselves with a disability that necessitates a mobility or medical device at some point in our lives, so the more we normalize accommodations and, you know, basic courtesy and compassion, the better off we'll all be.

Welsh actor Michael Sheen.

It’s one thing to make it to the top. It’s another to help others up as well.

Michael Sheen has already gifted the world something really special. His long list of acting credits include some bona fide iconic characters. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ll know the face. Seriously, this guy has been in everything.

If Sheen’s incredible talent isn’t enough to make you love him, his compassion and generosity will certainly win you over. He recently revealed that he will no longer be earning profits from his acting work, and will use that money to support others.

“I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor,” he explained in a recent interview with The Big Issue.

“I’ve realized in the last few years that I want to be one of those people who help other people the way so many people helped me…I’m at the stage of my life and career where I have a window of opportunity that will probably never be this good again. I’m able to get people in a room, I can open doors. I don’t want to look back and think, I could have done something with that platform. I could have done something with that money.”


Sheen is no stranger to lending his talents to a good cause. In addition to “The Passion,” his now famous 72-hour immersive play, Sheen also teamed up with David Tennant (his co-star from Neil Gaiman’s "Good Omens") to film "Staged," a British comedy Zoom series created during the pandemic.

There is a hilarious episode that was filmed for Red Nose Day, a campaign to help end child poverty. You can watch it below.

I hope seeing an aggravated Marlowe (Sheen) get one-upped by Shakespeare (Tennant) tickles you as much as it did me.

This time, Sheen is focusing his efforts to support the Homeless World Cup Foundation. According to its website, the foundation uses football to encourage those who are homeless to change their lives, as well as challenge attitudes toward those experiencing homelessness.

The organization was struggling to fund its 2019 event. That’s when Sheen made an important decision.

“I realized I could do this kind of thing and, if I can keep earning money, it’s not going to ruin me,” he told The Big Issue.

Knowing that the event could be an “extraordinary, life changing experience” for people all over the world who needed it, Sheen became determined. So determined that he sold both his homes, one in the U.K. and one in the U.S., to make it happen.

And in that moment of giving, Sheen gained a new perspective.

“There was something quite liberating about going, alright, I’ll put large amounts of money into this or that, because I’ll be able to earn it back again,” he shared.

The “not-for-profit” actor’s first film to be entirely dedicated to charity will be “Last Train to Christmas,” which premieres December 18. I don’t know what makes me happier: Michael Sheen’s big heart or his huge mullet in the role.

Either way, he’s great at giving us something to smile about.