Dealing with the death of a loved one is one of the most significant challenges we will face in our lifetimes. But second to the heartbreak we feel at losing them, is having to sort through that person’s belongings. Here are some tips that may make the task of dealing with a deceased loved one’s belongings a little easier.
Plan the process
Going through the belongings of a loved who has passed away is never an easy process, and it does require planning and support. Choose a day when you won’t be rushed and allow some time to rest afterwards, as your emotions may possible take their toll on you. Decide how much room you have for your loved one’s belongings, or whether you need to factor in their ‘relocation’ in terms of sharing them with family, selling them or donating items to charities. And understand that you can’t keep everything – doing so is impractical and some items just won’t be worth keeping. Have a rough idea of the order that you want to go through things – room-by-room is often a good way to start the process, as starting without a plan can be overwhelming and may lead to more stress and sadness.
Take your time
Work out if you are working to a deadline or if you can take your time going through belongings – it’s important not to put too much stress on yourself, but not to avoid the task either. Some tasks will require immediate attention, and often big decisions will need to be made for practical reasons, including dealing with bills, bank accounts and other financial matters.Everyone deals with grief differently. In terms of dealing with a deceased loved one’s possessions, some people will prefer to have the task done quickly in order to ‘move on’, others will want to take their time dealing with things in order to keep some semblance of normality throughout the process. Pacing yourself and taking breaks in between clean-out sessions is also crucial – you will probably stumble upon continuous reminders of the person you’ve lost, so you will need time to process your emotions and deal with your grief.
Ask for help
When dealing with a deceased loved one’s belongings it’s also important to factor in whether you’d prefer to do it alone or with support from others. Friends and extended family are often desperate to help but they just don’t know how. Close friends can also be helpful as they are somewhat removed from the situation, so may be able to help you make decisions and help you face the task. If letting go of sentimental items is too difficult, you can also call on a loved one for assistance. They may not only help ease some of the burden, having someone to work alongside can often keep you motivated and give you much-needed emotional support.
Highly emotional tasks can be delegated to others, including clearing out those ‘everyday reminders’ that are especially distressing for you. Friends or loved ones can also help you determine what is valuable to you – ask them to put a box aside that you can gradually fill and deal with when you’re ready. Before you begin de-cluttering after a loved one’s death, you should also reach out to loved ones who can’t be present. Ask them in advance to be very specific about what they’d like to keep. This issue can often be a source of conflict in families as often an item that has little meaning to one member can have significant sentimental value to another. Do your best to accommodate them, but within reason – it is important to look after your own needs during this process as well.
When sorting through the belongings of a loved one who has passed away, sorting methodically can help the process. Keep three main categories in mind – items to keep, relocate and trash, and designate boxes for items so they can be sealed and stored without repacking. In terms of your ‘keep’ boxes, try to be realistic about what you choose. Do you have space for the item? Have you kept multiples? Try to select items that have meaning for you, and store items you can’t decide upon in a ‘not sure’ pile that you can return to later when you have the time. ‘Relocate’ items can either be sold online or at a garage sale, and donating items to charities is also worth considering, particularly because sometimes it’s easier to part with things if you know they’re going to a good home.
Lastly, the ‘trash’ boxes. Consider recycling items where you can, and if there are a great number of items you need to get rid of and you are becoming overwhelmed, consider hiring a mini skip that can efficiently deal with their removal for you.
While dealing with a deceased loved one’s possessions is an overwhelming task, it can also be healing. Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you is ideal, however it’s also important to try and process your own emotions as much as you can as well. Try not to second-guess your decisions, avoid feeling regretful and remind yourself that letting go of items isn’t disrespectful. Material items don’t define relationships, memories do.
Here at Property Clearance, we understand the difficulty that comes with dealing with a deceased estate property clearance. Our team is highly experienced in terms of dealing with these delicate situations, and we work with families compassionately and in a way that respects the legacy of those who have passed.
Need some help dealing with a deceased loved one’s belongings? Contact the experts at Property Clearance today on 1300 200 292.