Where to Start After Losing a Loved One
The loss of a loved one is something that no one wants to think about.
Bereavement can be a confusing process. Much like the rest of life, there’s no manual or guidebook for how to act correctly, say the right things, or make sure everything is taken care of appropriately. It’s a really difficult thing to experience.
While sometimes you have a lot of time to help a loved one downsize and prepare for the end of their life; unfortunately, some families encounter an unforeseen loss or sudden tragedy. In these cases, there can be a whole house full of clutter to deal with on top of the emotional weight of the loss itself. What should you do when you have an entire life to sort through?
Everyone has a different personality and approach during such times. Some people throw everything out, purging out of grief, carelessness, or lack of time to appropriately sort through everything. Others are more sentimental, taking weeks and weeks of painstaking work to pick through every tiny item. They tend to keep too many items from their loved one, cluttering up their own house and adding stress at home to what is an already difficult time for family members.
How do you strike a balance? How can you honor your loved one while honoring those who continue to live?
Whether you’ve lost a grandparent or a friend, here are some actionable tips for those who are responsible for a loved one’s belongings after their passing:
HOW TO SORT THROUGH A LOVED ONE’S THINGS
TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Remember to draw on your network. Try to bring your family together during a time of loss. The more hands you have, the better. Try to lean on the shared strengths of the friends and family around you if you can so that you’re not sorting through everything alone.
CHECK THE WILL. If your family member created a will, be sure to ask their lawyer or executor to share the last wishes of your loved one. You will need to see if there are certain beneficiaries or directives for how the family should take care of the estate. If there is no will, the family will need to sort it all out however they see fit.
MAKE A PLAN. Remember to set an intention before you begin. Do you need to remember to keep special items for any family members who cannot be present? Is there a local charity shop that you want to support by donating items? Can you sell books to a resale shop to earn a couple extra dollars to go to the cost of supplies? Try to add a little bit of enjoyment to what can be a daunting task by supporting local nonprofits or taking a few minutes to think about how you can honor your loved one.
SORT ITEMS INTO FOUR PILES. The piles should be:
4) Throw Away/Recycle
Sara Davidson writes that Joan Didion’s advice for sorting through a loved one’s belongings was to only touch items once: “Make a decision and move on.” Being decisive will help keep you organized and sane as you move through the process of making important decisions.
ASK FOR HELP. Many of the everyday items from your loved one’s life may be hard for you to throw away on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some of the most personal items, for example, may be more painful to sort through because of how those belongings remind you of your loved one’s absence. By asking a friend to throw away personal items like a toothbrush, shampoo, or medications, some of the emotional burdens of your responsibilities can be lifted from your shoulders. You owe it to yourself not to carry more of the weight than is necessary. Ask for help when you need it.
DO RESEARCH ABOUT WHAT WILL SELL. Consider having an estate sale. You might also look into posting select items on resale sites like Craigslist, OfferUp, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace, etc. Posting online can be a really effective way to get rid of furniture and larger items. You may also consider having a garage sale to try to get rid of items and make a few dollars, but this option is not for everyone.
PRIORITIZE OBJECTS ASSOCIATED WITH HAPPY MEMORIES. People respond to grief in very different ways. Know that you do not have to keep items that you don’t like or don’t care for. There’s no reason to keep anything that reminds you of bad memories or brings any emotional angst.
KEEP A FEW HEIRLOOMS. Remember to keep photographs, family films, heirlooms, handmade items, or other family belongings may be really important to you or your kids in the future. Even if you’re a minimalist, we still recommend keeping some small token of your loved one. Don’t throw out all the family VHS tapes on a whim, because you could come to regret it later on. It’s better to keep mementos than lose them all.
TAKE A PHOTO. If you’re worried about emptying out a beloved childhood home or space with deep memories, remember to take photos or videos beforehand if that is emotionally helpful to you.
REMEMBER YOU HAVE OPTIONS. If you suddenly have an entire house of stuff to sort through, know that you don’t have to deal with it all at once. You can always get a storage unit to help you on a temporary basis or even as a climate-controlled option for storing sensitive family heirlooms. You don’t have to bring all of your grandmother’s belongings into your own house--consider renting a carpeted climate controlled drive-up storage unit to keep items out of your everyday life but safe and secure in a home-like storage environment.
If you have lost a loved one, we wish to extend our deepest condolences for your loss. If there is anything we can do to make your life easier through this process by providing self-storage in south central or Houston Texas, please give us a call at (844) 767-7867.
At LockTite storage, we provide straightforward storage solutions for Central and Houston Texas residents. Our facilities offer a wide range of storage types. Whether you need storage for household items, business inventory, RVs, or vehicles, our friendly LockTite Property Managers are here to help. We pride ourselves on our hospitality.
Stop by one of our locations today to see the LockTite difference--we even have snacks and drinks in the office for you or your kids. Many facilities also offer a complimentary moving truck and/or trailer for you to borrow, so if you need to move items into our facility, please give us a call about reserving a FREE truck for moving purposes.
Regardless of your storage needs, we look forward to speaking with you and helping you select the right unit for you and your family. Thank you for considering LockTite Storage for all your self-storage needs in Texas.