What Should You Do with Your Departed Loved One's Belongings?

Saturday, May 13, 2023

When you are bereaved, sorting through your loved one’s belongings can be especially challenging.

Losing a beloved family member or friend is one of life’s most difficult trials. There are many decisions to make and things often feel overwhelming. Having to go through their belongings can usher in more stress and sorrow, but there are ways to make the process less taxing.

In this article, we will share six helpful tips to make the task of sorting through a loved one’s belongings a little easier.

1. Develop a plan.

Going through the possessions of a loved who has passed away is usually filled with emotion. If possible, choose a period when you won’t have to rush and can build in some time for rest afterwards. Before you begin the sorting and removal, think through the process. Determine how much room you have for your loved one’s items and if you will need to relocate some things by giving them to family members, donating them to charity, or selling them. Think too about how you want to approach the sorting process. Going room by room is a good option as it provides clear starting and stopping points.

2. Seek input from your family.

Before you begin de-cluttering, reach out to loved ones who can’t be present. Ask them to be specific about any items they wish to keep. Something that has little meaning to one family member can have significant sentimental value to another relative. Don’t assume you know what might be important to other members of your family.

3. Take your time.

Everyone deals with grief differently. In terms of sorting through a deceased loved one’s possessions, some people prefer to have the task done quickly so they can move on. Others like to take their time so they can maintain a sense of normality throughout the process. Move forward at the pace that’s right for you but remember to build in some time for breaks so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

4. You don’t have to go it alone.

The thought of cleaning out and sorting through your departed loved one’s belongings might leave you feeling isolated. There are likely many people who would be happy to lend a hand. If you will be doing the sorting with others, surround yourself with those who can offer emotional support. That probably includes close family members but consider your friends, too, and think about their areas of strength. For instance, do you know someone who’s great at organizing things? Who can help you make smart decisions? Highly emotional tasks should be delegated to others, such as clearing out reminders that are especially distressing for you.

5. Prioritize and organize the sorting.

When going through the belongings of a loved one who has passed away, a methodical approach can help the process move faster.

Experts recommend separating things into three main categories: items to keep, relocate, or trash. Designate boxes for each category for easy storage and removal. In terms of your ‘keep’ boxes, try to be practical about what you choose. Do you have enough space for the items? Select things that hold the most meaning. If there are some items you’re unsure about, create another box labeled ‘TBD’ and return it to later when you have time. ‘Relocate’ items can be given to friends or family, sold online or at a garage sale, or donated to charity. In terms of the ‘trash’ boxes, recycle what you can and get rid of the rest. 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.

6. Don’t have regrets.

Dealing with a departed loved one’s possessions is a major task but it can also be healing. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, and take time to work through your emotions during the process. Don’t rush, be thoughtful in your decisions, and don’t second-guess yourself.

Be kind and patient with yourself as you sort through your loved one’s belongings. We understand the challenges that come with loss and we are always here to support you. If you have questions or require additional information, please contact us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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