Clearing up a lifetime’s worth of stuff
If your loved one has died and it has fallen to you to deal with their belongings, we’re here to help you to sift through and organise it all
Unless you’re under pressure to sell a property, it could be quite easy to ignore loved ones’ possessions after they have died. You may find comfort that their belongings are still around you, like they have just popped out for a while.
You might feel like you've got to hurry and lock belongings away as quickly as possible. Out of sight, out of mind; a bit like burying your grief. If you can’t see them, then you don’t have to deal with them. Remember, if you put things in storage it can become a financial burden you may not wish to carry.
Although this might help at the time to feel like you’re being strong for children or yourself, or moving on, all you’re doing is shifting the problem to another time, perhaps for children to deal with after you’ve gone.
Ask yourself, are you worried that it’s another goodbye, or because you’re worried about losing a bit more of your loved one? Both are normal things to feel.
Here are a few pointers:
Start by looking at the will, if there is one, as there might be requests to leave specific items to certain people.
If there is a house, you can leave it empty for six months without charges, before you have to start paying anything so this gives you time to sort items and list for sale.
It’s a good idea to have someone with you who is happy to listen but not direct you with what to do with everything.
Some people find it easier to work in short bursts, rather than trying to tackle everything at once. Give yourself regular breaks, as this might feel overwhelming.
Create and even label five piles: keep (for yourself), sell, charity, mementos for others, and bin. This will help you to focus, especially if there’s lots to go through. If you can’t make up your mind straight away, come back to the pile with a fresh mind to go through it again.
If you have furniture that you don’t want to keep, there are lots of charities that will collect it from you. If it’s upholstered, it will need a fire regulations label for it to be taken.
If you don’t want to deal with any of it and just want everything gone, a local house clearance company will clear the items for you, for a price that’s usually less than a skip.
If you feel like you’ve got unresolved grief and you’re feeling stuck, please message us, our Grief Specialists are here to help.
Carol Wright is an author, Qualified Health Coach and Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist who specialises in helping people with health loss, middle-aged women caring for parents, parental loss and emotional eating. Carol is based in Northamptonshire and available for Grief Recovery sessions online via Zoom, and face-to-face. Find out more about Carol here.