What to Do with Your Loved One’s Belongings

After a loved one passes away, it can be difficult seeing reminders of them everywhere in your home or theirs. You loved them, still want them with you, and yet only their things remain. The pain is real and the thought of letting go of any of their things just causes you more heartache.

Though everyone experiences loss, it can be easy to feel alone in your pain. And you’re right, no one will ever understand what that person meant to you. But, we can all empathize with the pain you’re feeling, as we remember saying goodbye to our own loved one. Find comfort in knowing you aren’t alone on this journey.

 Grieving wife looking at memory box

Here are a few tips to get you started when the daunting question of what to do with your loved one’s belongings keeps popping up in your mind.  

-Don’t pressure yourself to start immediately, but also don’t neglect the task for too long.

You want to make these decisions at your own pace. Waiting a while is not wrong, nor is starting immediately. Either way, you want to take inventory of your emotions and don’t allow yourself to work on it for too long at any given time. Give yourself room to breathe and quit for the day if you need to. Note that neglecting the task for too long though will only give you time to build up emotions about the task itself. The task will never be easy. Walk into it knowing there may be some hard moments, but that you are strong enough to get through them.

-It’s ok to ask for help.

You can do this on your own, but it’s also ok to ask for help. What’s Your Grief suggests having a friend come in and throw away any daily reminders and items that you just can’t seem to do yourself. This can be things like a hairbrush, or shampoo in the shower. Give your friend a list of items you want taken out and ask them to take the trash out when they’re leaving as well.

As you begin going through other items throughout the home, you may enjoy having someone to share your memories with. They might even be able to help you decide what is practical to keep and what isn’t. Remember it’s up to you in the end what stays and what goes.

-Take pictures of items you’re letting go of.

For those items you know you have to let go, but don’t want to, keep the memory of them at least. Take a picture of the item as suggested by this article. This way you can still remember the item but it’s not taking up any space in your home.

-It’s OK to throw items away. It’s also OK to keep items. There’s no shame in either.

As you begin the process you may feel a little bit of guilt letting go of some of their prized possessions. That’s normal, but keep reminding yourself that it is OK and necessary to begin to let go of some of the items. And on the flip side, keeping some items is also OK. What you don’t want to do is overwhelm your home and limited space with items you don’t need, but only have sentimental value. Try to limit yourself to only a few boxes of items like this. For other items, have a plan and timeline for how you will let go of them.  You might say, “I’ll store this for 6 months until we can have a yard sale.” Or you might say, “I’ll keep this in storage for a year until my daughter moves into her first apartment and she needs furniture.” Give yourself a time frame.

-Find the right space for the belongings you can’t part with.

-Incorporate them into your life, wardrobe or decor. You might decide to take their old clothing to make a blanket or pillow. Or, you might decide to frame some of your favorite letters or recipes in their handwriting. Or, you might just find some of their practical belongings you or someone in your family can still use (kitchen supplies, furniture, etc).

-Some items you may decide you can’t part with yet, but you also don’t want to see everyday. This is when a portable building can help you store items safely for the long term. Remember that you aren’t putting these items away so you can forget your loved one. It’s actually the opposite. You are allowing yourself the opportunity to move forward emotionally, while still keeping some sentiments of your loved one within reach.

If you need a shed to help you organize your loved one’s things, look at a few styles and sizes here. Also, you can email us directly so we can help you find the right fit, without much fuss. We understand this is a difficult time for you and want to be sensitive to your grieving process. As you navigate your loved one’s things, let us know how a Cook shed can help you move forward.