OrganizationSenior Services

Saying Goodbye to a Loved One’s Belongings

The decision about what to do with the items left behind is by far one of the hardest things to deal with after losing someone.  Many ask the question, ‘when should I start to clean and organize his/her personal belongings’? And the answer is very simple –when you are ready! Some start the process when they decide to sell their home and others wake up one morning and say today is the day.  Be kind to yourself while cleaning out the closets – take your time, and do not let yourself be overwhelmed. Give yourself time to cherish the memories.  If you are not ready to go through the belongings, don’t –wait until you are ready.

It may be many months before you are emotionally ready to tackle the project. The amount of time needed between the death and an ability to decide what to do with the belongings varies based on so many factors, including the relationship of the loss.  Don’t let others judge you for how long (or short) the time-period is before you feel ready to take on this task.

I can support and help you with this important part of the grieving process.

Here are some steps I can assist with:

  1. I can help create a timeframe that works for you to finish the entire project. Clearing a house may take several months of weekends. The best way to get started is to tackle one corner, one drawer or one file at a time.  Be sure to take the time to savor memories of each item that goes through your hands.  If it is overwhelming, you can take a few items to a different room and go through them at your leisure.
  2. Tackle the project in steps. Don’t try to do it all at once, or after eight hours you may be exhausted, still not done, and reluctant to try again. This closet, room, or home full of things took a lifetime to gather, don’t expect to sort and pack in one day. Once you start, you will find that you will develop a rhythm and a balance between feeling you are accomplishing the task and taking pleasure in reminiscing.
  3. When you lose someone who lives in your home, their everyday belongings surround you.  Though some of these items may be comforting, many are just small and painful reminders of the absence in the house.  If you can’t bring yourself to put away everyday items or throw away those half-empty shampoo bottles, to-do lists, and medications, that’s where I can help. I can do the hard part and remove what’s not needed, so you aren’t left staring at the trash bag.
  4. I can help you choose a place of honor to display the treasured objects you want to keep. We can take pictures of items you want to remember but that are not practical to keep. I will help you consider what items could be included in a memorial or can become a family heirloom. For example, creating a quilt with your spouse’s clothing can provide comfort or can be saved for generations.
  5. There may be family members and friends who would enjoy a special item from your loved one’s belongings – maybe a coffee mug for a desk at the office, tools for the handy person, running watch for the running buddy, books for the reader, etc. But don’t feel compelled to give away cherished belongings too quickly.
  6. It can be hard to know where to donate so many items that you to ensure go to a good place and a worthy cause.  I can help you through the donation process including a list of local organizations to donate to. I can also help with not-for-profits in your community that can benefit from donations – coats for the homeless and business suits for workforce initiatives.

If I can assist you with this difficult process, please let me know. I’m here for you.

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