Cleaning Out My Closet

One of the things that is rarely ever discussed when someone dies, is what to do with all of their stuff once they’re gone.

When you’ve lost a spouse and you have to look at their side of the closet every day, or go into their office. When you just don’t quite know what to do with your young child’s now unoccupied bedroom. Deciding how to divvy up Mom’s belongings between siblings or making sure everything is completely out of Dad’s apartment before the end of the month.

It’s a daily reminder of the void that has been left in your life, yet so many of us either dive right into the purging and regret it later, or leave everything completely untouched for months on end. For those of you who  not only handled arranging the services, but are now shouldering the responsibility of cleaning out your loved one’s things, I have a few tips for you that I hope are helpful.

  1. Work in spurts – If you’re not under any time constraints, it’s perfectly fine to take your time. Maybe carve out two days each week to focus on sorting through items. An entire day too much? Set your timer for 30 minutes each day….once the timer buzzes, it’s time to stop.
  2. Utilize the three bin tactic and stick to it.  – Take three plastic bins and label them (keep, donate/sell, throw away) Feel free to take breaks each time the bins are full.
  3. Follow up with self care- Immediately after stopping, indulge in an activity that is just for you. Take a bubble bath, watch an episode of something that makes you laugh, eat your favorite ice cream. Whatever your choice, make sure it’s 100% just for you.
  4. Bring in a trusted friend to keep you on track- Not another family member. You need an impartial party who will sympathize when necessary, but also keep you focused on the task at hand.

When getting out of bed is an accomplishment, the last thing that we want to do when a death has occurred, is be practical. I hope that this helps lighten that load, if only slightly.

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