Dealing with the belongings of a treasured friend or relative who has died is the kind of situation that most people dread. It is a grief-stricken time when nothing seems real and thinking about anything practical can be really tough. However, when someone you love dies it can be something of a healing process to give yourself the chance to take care of the belongings they have left. There will inevitably be a period of grieving and inaction when you experience some degree of shock, but when you feel the time has come to handle the deceased loved one’s belongings then here are a few tips on how to do it.
You don’t have to do it on your own
This can be an emotionally tough time and you may not be able to anticipate the effect that sorting through knickknacks that used to belong to someone who meant a lot to you will have on you. Having friends and loved ones around you can make it easier so don’t be afraid to accept help when it is offered. Many people feel like they must ‘be strong’ or maintain an emotionless façade, but sharing this pain with those who love you will often make it easier. A professional house clearance firm like Anyjunk can also help to make the task easier (and lighter), just sort through the possessions you want to keep and let the removal team take care of the rest.
Think about distributing possession to other friends and loved ones
Whilst some of your deceased loved one’s belongings might be covered by the will, the smaller things are unlikely to be. As these items tend to be the possessions that mean the most emotionally, other friends and loved ones might appreciate the chance to take something that reminds them of the relationship that they had with the person who has died. It can also be a heart-warming experience to go through old possessions, to share memories and good times and to think back on your experience of the person who has passed on.
Be respectful to the next of kin
If you are not the closest family member to the person who has died then it’s a good idea to take your cue from the close relatives about how they want the possessions to be dealt with. It’s easy to be insensitive at a time like this, particularly when it comes to older belongings, and the last thing you want to do is make anything harder for the people who are going through it. Gently ask how and when the close relatives would like the process to get under way and then provide gentle support, rather than steaming in like a bulldozer and trampling all over everyone’s feelings.
Don’t be mercenary!
For most people this will be quite natural but there is sometimes a temptation to look at a situation like a death of someone who you weren’t that close to in a rather detached and calculating way. Even though you might be in line to inherit money or to receive property, don’t push this too far. Don’t start rooting through the deceased’s belongings for valuables and definitely don’t start selling the estate out from under the relatives.
Consider some charitable giving
Rather than throwing away items such as old clothes, blankets, duvet, books, toys, cookware etc consider giving them to charity. As times are quite tough economically at the moment there are many people out there who will find great comfort in these items. Obviously get rid of any that are damaged beyond repair, or unhygienic, but take the rest to a local charity shop so that they can continue to do some good even after their original owner has gone.
Whilst it’s never easy dealing with the possessions of a deceased loved one, it is possible to do this in an efficient way, to make the process as painless as possible – leaving you free to remember them and the times you shared together.
John is a freelance writer from the UK