There might be some who enjoy spring cleaning but I bet if you are still grieving and it’s your loved ones items you might not be so eager to do this. I get that, I’ve been there… a few times in fact ... I can tell you it is no fun and it is difficult work. However, there is a silver lining in that you can feel better afterwards, you might find some treasures, and if you have help or family with you – you can make memories. I’ve had the really super tough task of cleaning out my late husbands closet and dealing with all of his stuff in our home of 20 years. I also recently had the task of cleaning out my parent’s home after my mother died. I’ve witnessed my parents dealing with their parent’s estates as a kid. I’ve seen good, not so great, and heard of awful ways of cleaning out a loved ones items. It can be a healing time and not rife with strife.
First, by cleaning out a loved ones items you are NOT forgetting them or dishonoring them. It is part of the difficult journey of grief work. It is something that you must do and it will help you heal and move forward.
Seven tips on what I’ve found and learned that can make spring cleaning a departed loved ones items easier.
1. Only you know when the right time is to do this. Don’t let others rush you or rush into help you. On the flip side, if it’s been years and you still haven’t completed the cleaning out of your departed loved ones items, it might be time for some help.
- Note to families working together – it’s a good idea to assign a point person or leader. However, it’s often difficult and challenging for everyone to work together.
- Agree to a set of ground rules.
- Remember to honor, love and respect during this process.
2. What pace do you want or need to accomplish this? Consider when do you want or need to have the house/closet/place cleaned out?
- In this day and age it could be that you have a week to move grandma’s items out of the assisted living home or you have to put the home on the market quickly to pay for dad’s living expenses.
- If you have time or a large estate and everyone is near an option could be taking time to clean a house with family on the weekends/vacations. It might be a beautiful way to make memories, honor and respect your loved ones.
- Maybe you have a need to quickly dispense of the items or family is spread far and wide. Pick a date for the “clean out,” invite others to participate and work hard for that day, week, or month - to accomplish what is needed. Keep everyone informed if you can.
3. Determine if you want help or not. If so, who do you want to help you? What will you ask them to do and what do you expect of them?
- A plus of doing it yourself – you alone set the pace, you can cherish the memories, cry, scream, yell, talk, and do what you need/want to grieve in private. On the flip side, you might benefit from having a loving person who can hold you, guide you, and offer help and comfort.
- A plus of having help – you can make memories together, the burden is shared, you are less likely to become overwhelmed, it often goes quicker, and decisions can be made quicker.
4. Before you start – make a plan.
- What do you want/need to accomplish by when?
- Consider: Is there anything that has a burning need to be completed?
- If so tackle this first. Something like finding the tax papers for example.
- Do just the next thing or one thing. You can do this!
- Families – discuss expectations, needs, values, and desired outcome.
- Remember to honor, love and respect during this process.
5. What to DO with the stuff?
- Determine who was “given” or want’s what. If there’s a will use that as a guideline. If there is a legacy plan use that. Determine a fair system that works for your particular situation. There are many types of systems/plans and each is as different as the unique fabric of our individual families. Work towards what works best for the majority.
- Donate, keep, sell, throw away, IDK are a few of the options for what to do with the stuff.
- Make piles and sort what you can. Try a room or box at a time.
Things I learned after sorting my first husbands and mother’s items:
- Take it slow and pace yourself.
- Doing too much can be emotionally draining. Plan for that.
- Having at least one loving person there makes it bearable.
- You might need to rent or find a dumpster.
- You might need to find a shredder place for old documents with important/confidential information on it. Especially after you burn up the shredder and it’s painstakingly slow.
- If you live in the country or are able – a bonfire can be amazingly healing.
- Hearing aids can be donated and are in need for the elderly.
- There are many resources and options for donations. I’ve listed a few below.
6. Celebrate when you’ve completed an hour or day of sorting and cleaning.
- Do something to recognize you completed a difficult task, do something in honor of your loved one, or celebrate with family.
7. During the cleaning process or afterwards schedule some time for self-care and reflection.
- Massage, bubble bath, journal, pray, meditate, or take a hike. Something to recharge your soul. This is HARD work and recharging is required so you can be your best for everyone involved.
Spring cleaning during grief is a difficult task. It is one that I’ve found isn’t as awful as I thought it would be. Oh sure, there were times of deep profound pain and lots of tears. Have lots of tissues on hand for this task. There were also times of wow, how neat, I didn’t know that, look what I found, no way, little things that showed how special the loved one was, and I bet so and so would love this, etc. I’m blessed to have found treasured memories. May your spring cleaning journey through grief be blessed for you. My heart aches for you as you go down this path. You can do this. One step at a time.
I hope you found this useful or thought provoking. Perhaps someone you know could use this information. Please click like, share, comment, or email me – see buttons and links below.
Are you interested in moving forward in life or need help getting started with that closet clean out? If so, I’d be honored to embark on that journey together with you. I partner with those in loss, grief, and together we work to move forward to live boldly and fulfilled.
Check out my website to contact me. If you want more change, loss, and life tips register for my newsletter – to the right of this blog.
Peace & Blessings,
Bold Fulfilled Business & Life Coach –Change and Loss Specialty
9 Tips for Cleaning Out Your Late Parent’s Home
Top 15 Tips for Dealing With Personal Property in Estates
Cleaning Out a Deceased Loved One’s Closet: 12 Tips to Make the Process a Little Easier
Estate Sales Locator
Where to donate: A few ideas and resources for donations
Local hospice thrift stores, local shelter, Goodwill, Salvation Army , Dress for Success, Hearing aids, Glasses – Lions clubs