Getting Organized After a Loved One Passes- Part II - Personal Belongings

The passing of a loved one is s difficult time. There are many steps to take in the grieving process. There are many emotional hurdles to overcome, memories to savor. But still, survivors must forge ahead with other processes, things which need to be done: a funeral, services, family gatherings, settling an estate, getting finances in order and executing a will.

In that, though, there is one process that remains the most emotional of all. There will still sit a house full of items, belonging to the deceased. With their passing does not also come the passing of many years of those accumulated belongings. Eventually, the home has to be emptied. This can be a painstaking process, because with the removal of each item can come the brining back of a memory. An old birthday card, his or her old letterman jacket and special photographs can be difficult- and yet cathartic- moments.

Because this process in as emotional one, there are some suggestions on how going into it in an organized manner can help also have a clearer mind. The Grief Recovery Handbook, co-authored by John W. James and Frank Cherry, offers some insight into well-organized manner of dealing with items: The ABC Approach. The ABC in this acronym refers to the three piles you will form for the belongings you come across.

Pile A will contain the clothing, items and other materials that you wish to keep. These can be things that you personally want, or things you will want to pass along to other family members of close friends. Many things in this pile may be of extreme sentimental value. Pile B will be composed of items that you are most certain you want to dispose of. Items in this pile could consist of usual household items. Because we are human, we are sometimes indecisive. So, your third pile, Pile C will contain items that you have not made up your mind about.

After your piles are divided into A, B and C, the next step is to take action with them. With the items in Pile A, you will place them back where they belong, such as back in the closets or dressers. If the items are being kept at another location, bring them there. The items in Pile B become the items that you will take to a local charitable organization, such as a Salvation Army, Goodwill, homeless shelter or church. Keep in mind any charity the passed loved one held close to his or her heart. Finally, Pile C should be packed up and placed in a garage, attic or basement. A little while later, you can return to Pile C and start the ABC Approach over again until everything finds a home.

Before you start to tackle these piles however, make sure the house well organized itself. Take out the trash, and perform any unfinished chores such as doing dishes, putting away laundry, etc. Make sure everything is in its place. Of course, it will come out of its place when it is sorted. But, you would not want to clean out closets and make piles A,B and C, only to discover a laundry room full of clean and soiled linens. Getting the house organized first will make things run smoother.

More tips to keep in mind these tips when organizing:

Take Your Time

Unless a house is up for sale or there is a strict deadline, take your time with this process. In a way, this is part of the grieving process. Disposing of things quickly will not make the pain go any quicker. Instead, take your time and sort through everything carefully.

Take a Break 

If you are feeling restless, upset or overwhelmed, by all means, take a break. Go out for fresh air, for a bit to eat or home for a while. Do something to get your mind off the chore. Return to the process when you can.

Take a Moment

During this process, you are bound to come across items of significance. Take a moment to think about the item, what memories it brings back, etc. This process will bring tears, smiles and laughter. Don’t shrug it off. Take a moment with the item. You will be surprised what you find. Perhaps he or she left something meant to be found after his or her passing. And, perhaps you will find some surprises- like cards, letters and small gifts that he saved in a special place.

Take a Friend

Sometimes you may feel that you need someone by your side to comfort you of you come across something that makes you upset, or share a fond memory with. It can be a comforting experience to have a close friend or relative with you during this process.

Part I: Getting Your Life Organized After a Loved One Passes: Finances

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