The loss of a loved one is difficult enough, but having to face the heartbreaking chore of going through the person’s belongings afterward can be very emotional and compound your grief. Here are some tips we hope will help you get through this process:
Make a Plan
This is typically a big project and can be overwhelming if you dive right in without a plan. Decide on days and times when you don’t have to rush and make sure you don’t have anything going on afterward as you will likely be emotionally drained. Consider the order you’d like to follow, taking one room at a time. Also, make a list of places you may be able to donate to, and talk with family members to discuss if there are any particular items people want.
Ask for Help (If You Want It)
It is good to call upon the support and assistance of friends and family as this can make the task go more quickly, help you to make decisions, and provide you with emotional support. However, not everyone feels comfortable having others around during this process. Do what feels best for you.
Take Your Time
If you are able, avoid putting a deadline on getting the sorting done. You may want to get it over with, but on the other hand, you may not feel up to it for quite some time; you may have a productive day followed by a difficult one that you’d like to cut short. It’s important to allow yourself however much time you need. Pace yourself, take breaks if necessary, and try not to place additional stress on yourself as you process emotions and deal with your grief.
Create a Sorting Structure
Oftentimes, the only thing more difficult than going through your loved ones belongings is the thought of throwing any of them away. However, nothing says you need to either keep it or toss it. Try sorting with boxes labeled: Keep, Donate, Throw Away, Not sure.
Keep things that spark happy memories, but be realistic with how much space you have and only hold onto things that mean a great deal to you. It’s okay if you can’t decide about something - put it in the unsure box so you can take the time to think about it later without holding up the process. Donating items can be easier than throwing them away since you know you are helping someone else and the items are still being used. You may also want to add a box labeled “Recycle” - another option that can help you feel better about parting with some of the belongings. Lastly, consider taking photographs or videos of things so you can keep the memories without having to keep the items.
Going through a loved one’s belongings is certainly difficult, but it can also be healing and restorative. Remember, while you may have to part with material items, you will always have your memories. For more tips or information about dealing with grief, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We understand and are happy to help in any way we can.