Sorting through your loved one’s belongings after death
I often get asked, “What kind of clients typically call you for organizing help?” The answer is about 1/3 of our clients are seniors or those with health problems, 1/3 are busy professionals and the remaining third are those who are chronically disorganized. But there is another common factor that my clients often have. I am getting more and more calls from those who have lost a loved one and need help going through their loved ones belongings. This week 3 out of 6 of our clients had lost a loved one, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them.
Client A lost both his parents who were elderly, and needed help going through all their belongings in preparation of putting their home up for sale.
Client B lost her husband to cancer. He was only 53 years old.
Client C’s roommate passed away and I believe she was in her thirties.
After losing a loved one, we go through a series of emotions including sadness, overwhelm, and loneliness. Sorting through the personal belongings of your loved one can be extremely overwhelming, so here are a few tips to help you with the process.
1. If you are not ready, don’t do it – If you are not pressed for time, then take your time going through the items. Wait until you are emotionally ready.
2. Ask for help – don’t be shy about asking for help. It can be very overwhelming when making decisions on what to keep and what not to, so reach out for help. If you don’t want to ask friends or family members to help you, then consider hiring a professional organizer. PO’s can help you with the decision process, as well as be there for emotional support.
3. Be thorough – Everyone is different during this process, but most people are not excited about going through every little item. But make sure you do because you never know what you might find. I once found a lot of money (over a thousand dollars) stuffed into old papers. My client was very happy with that find.
4. If you don’t want it, ask family and friends if they do – If you come across items that you don’t have room for or don’t want, ask family and friends if they may be interested in them. You may be surprised at what they want.
5. Your loved one would not want you to be drowning in their stuff – I see this often, especially when a parent passes away. Some of my clients have boxes and boxes of their parents stuff and have a hard time parting with them. Please keep in mind, your parents would not want you to have a full basement, garage or home with all their stuff. They would not want you to be overwhelmed by all the stuff. They would want you to let the stuff go.
6. Selling items – when it comes to selling items, there are many different ways to do so ex. Estate sale, auctioneers, antique dealers, on-line auctions, you sell the items etc. Make sure to do your research on how to sell your loved ones items.
7. Memories – Letting go of loved one’s items can be difficult to do, but keep in mind, they are possessions. You will always have memories of your loved one, whether you have their possessions or not. It is ok to keep some items, but you don’t need to keep them all. If there is an item that brings happy memories to you, but it takes up a lot of room, and you really don’t need it, consider taking a picture of it. Pictures take up a lot less space.
Going through a loved ones belongings who has passed away can be tough. It can be very overwhelming, tedious and exhausting. Don’t forget to reach out for help.
Until next time,
Kathy McEwan is a professional organizer and owner of Second Set of Hands. If you would like more information on sorting through a loved one’s possessions, or home/office organizing, feel free to fill out the contact form on the About Us page.
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