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How To Organise The Belongings Of A Deceased Loved One

August 15, 2016 by Kennards Self Storage

There are many personal challenges one has to face when a loved one passes away, and sorting through their personal belongings can be one of the most difficult.

There are, however, a few things you can do to make the process just that little bit simpler. Below are a few tips that may help.

1. Do it in your own time

If there’s no real reason to rush, give yourself all the time you need. Don’t feel pressured just to ‘get it over with’ some people will find it easier to do it right away, some will want to wait a while.

It’s up to you when you feel ready.

2. Decide if you’d like someone to help you

You may find the process easier if there is another person present to help you.

As you’re going to be burning a lot of emotional and mental energy an extra pair of hands can be very helpful.

If you think you’d like someone to help, don’t be afraid to ask. Set a time and date and tell them what it is you need help with.

If you decide to do decide to do it alone, setting a defined time frame in which to have it done is also a good idea so as to avoid dragging out the painful process.

3. Prepare

A little preparation goes a long way and, as this is a difficult process, you’ll want to make sure you’ve done everything you can beforehand.

For this process you’ll need a lot of boxes and packing material such as bubble wrap and tape. Needing to head to the store for more supplies can be very frustrating so make sure you have everything you need before you begin.

Once you’ve got all your boxes, make sure you label them before you begin (donate, keep, discard, family members and so on). This helps the process move along smoothly and will prevent confusion later on. Once you’ve packed each box you shouldn’t have to look inside it again.

Finally, be aware that this is going to be sad – knowing and accepting this before you begin will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed once you get into it. Take a few deep breaths. You will get through this.


4. Have an ‘I don’t know’ box

When going through the house you’re likely to find a few items you can’t decide on. If you’re overly cautious and put them all in ‘keep’ (or vice versa) you’ll likely feel compelled to go through it all again, thereby prolonging the process.

Having an ‘I don’t know’ box means you only have one box of things you’ll need to go through again.

5. Create boundaries

Before you begin, give yourself a limit to the length of time you think you’ll need to spend in each room and set a phone alarm or reminder as you begin.

You’ll be surprised at how the hours run away from you and the longer you’re at it the more tired and emotional you’ll become. Setting a timer will keep you moving through it.

Another limit you might want to set is the number items you choose to keep. Placing every sentimental item in your ‘keep’ box will only result in clutter and you having to go through the whole process again. Remember that it’s the memories that are special, not the objects – only keep the things you really want and let the rest go.

6. Do one room at a time

Doing little bits in each room can start to feel overwhelming, so try to completely finish each room before you move on to the next.

It’s also a good idea to start with the rooms that have the least personal items in them, such as the kitchen. This allows you to build momentum before you reach the more sensitive rooms.

Depending on the amount of stuff your loved one had, you may want to spread the project out over a few days. As you get tired your reserve will run low; it’ll be more manageable to break the project up into phases.


7. Don’t keep ‘sad’ items

When deciding what stays and what goes, keep the things that have happy memories attached to them, but don’t be tempted to keep things that will make you feel sad.

Try to think about how seeing that item will affect you on a day-to-day basis. Are you keeping it because you feel guilty about giving it away, or are you keeping it because it makes you happy to have it near you?

You’re not doing yourself, or anyone else, any favours by keeping things that will continue to make you upset. The item that makes you so sad might make someone else really happy, feel good about passing it on to them instead.


8. Save papers for later

As you tidy, place any papers or documents in a box to go through later. Not only does this prevent you from accidentally throwing important documents away, but it’s also very time-consuming to read every last piece of paper.

Putting them all in one big box will help you move through the rest of the house faster. When you do have time you can them go through them properly.

9. Use a camera and scanner

Documents, photographs and old letters can be very tricky to sort and know what to do with. The best way to handle these items is to scan them onto your computer and store them digitally.

Storing them in cyberspace not only immortalises them, it also saves space, prevents loss, reduces clutter and is much easier to share with other relatives.


10. Let go of guilt

If an object served your loved one well while they were alive then it has served its purpose and you shouldn’t feel any guilt about letting it go.

Remember that it’s the memories that are important, not the objects. If an item is inconvenient to keep no one will mind if you let it go.

11. Valuables

Don’t feel as though you have to keep items you don’t want just because they are valuable. Monetary value doesn’t always equal worth and if you don’t want to keep it that’s absolutely fine.

Many people feel guilty about selling or giving away valuable items, but they really needn’t.

If you like the idea of doing something for your loved one with the money, sell these items and make a donation to their favourite charity in their name.


12. Plan a post-tidy event

If you can, try to ensure you have something nice to do after the process of sorting and tidying up. You’re likely to be feeling a bit sensitive at this point, so you don’t want to give yourself time to feel down.

Plan an emotionally boosting activity like exercise, watching an uplifting film, having a massage or social time with friends.


Kennards Self Storage

As a proud Family Business you can feel comfortable in storing with People Who Care. We have storage locations everywhere! And space for everyone! Personal and Business Space, Wine Cellars, RV and Boat, Gun Storage and Deposit Boxes. Keep it at Kennards, the People Who Care!

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