People leave behind a lot when they pass – loved ones, memories and often many material things. So, what do you do with these items after they’re gone?
First, it’s important to understand that just like every other part of the grieving process, there is no perfect timeline for when to start sorting through someone’s belongings after they die.
“Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. It’s a cliché but it’s true. Some people might not be ready to part with their loved one’s possessions for months or even years while others find the process deeply cathartic,” says Brian Calhoun, Funeral Director at Stuhr Funeral Home.
Once you are ready, here are a few tips to help you along the way:
1. Prioritize and plan ahead
Before you dive right in, prepare a game plan. Are there items you should address immediately, like household bills? If not, you might find it easiest to start with items you know are disposable, like expired food or old magazines, to get momentum.
Also, think about how much you can realistically keep beforehand. How much space do you actually have? What is the cost of keeping items, like paying for storage or taking the time to make space in your house? That way, you don’t bring home more than you can handle.
2. Take the pile approach
As you sort through items, create five piles: save for me, save for others, donate, sell and trash/recycle. You could use a color-coded system, written labels or simply boxes – whatever works. Just be honest with yourself when determining which category to place items.
3. Donate to worthy causes
A wide variety of items that are still in good shape that you don’t have room or use for can be donated. Old cell phones, for instance, can be donated to groups like the National Network to End Domestic Violence or Cell Phones for Soldiers. Eyeglasses can be recycled through organizations like OneSight or Lions Club International.
And while most clothing can simply be dropped off at a local thrift store, you could also take inspiration from Jeopardy’s recent decision to donate some of Alex Trebek’s suits to The Doe Fund, a nonprofit that provides services to individuals who have experienced homelessness, addiction and incarceration.
4. Don’t feel guilty about letting things go
“While physical items may hold sentimental value, they aren’t what keeps your loved one’s memory alive. Only you can do that,” says Calhoun. “So, remember that it’s not your responsibility to hold onto the burden of all of their personal items, and donating is a great way to honor their legacy.”
Stuhr Funeral Home, a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, cares for families of those whose lives have ended. Stuhr Funeral Home is committed to providing quality arrangements to honor loved ones and family traditions. For more information about available funeral services, visit JHenryStuhr.com or call (843) 723- 2524.