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moving through the heartache of dealing with a loved ones stuff 300x300The pain of losing a loved one is all consuming, it cuts right to the soul and breaks your heart.  The aftermath of losing a loved one is often hard for anyone to verbalize. Everyone deals with death differently.  From my experience you cannot predict how someone will react and get through it. There are no specific timelines, no specific route to getting through it and I can tell you that you NEVER get over it.  You can just learn to accept it and learn how to live your new normal without your loved ones physical presence.

When a loved one passes, they leave behind not only heartache but also ‘stuff’.  Their presence is felt in all the things that they used, all the clothes that they wore, all their precious mementos they collected.  Those left behind are then tasked with having to decided what to do with all the stuff left behind. I work regularly with people who have to go through their loved one’s possessions, it is a heartbreaking task but a necessary one to move forward. 

Although the task is not simple here are 8 tips to help you move through the heartache of releasing a loved one's stuff after they pass:


Wait if possible - Give yourself some time before you tackle this if possible.  Allow yourself the time to grieve the loved one and feel a little stronger before you take on this task, unless time is limited to settle the space.

Grieve as you go - As you go through the process you may feel like you are giving away a piece of your loved one with every possession you let go. This is normal and part of the whole grieving process. What is important during this time is to allow for the grieving to happen - cry, yell, whatever you need to do to let the emotions out.  Feel the feeling and then move on.

Honour their memory - Choose how you are going to honor the memory of your loved one with the stuff you do keep.  Keep only things that bring you joy when thinking of them. The reality is we cannot keep everything from everyone, so choose wisely what you will keep and ensure you honor their memory by honoring the possessions you keep.  Storing boxes and boxes of their stuff in an attic or basement does not honour their memory, choose to pay it forward and allow others to be blessed by the stuff, giving your loved one’s possession new life.

Take Pictures – If there are things that have great memories but you know you cannot keep, take a picture of the item to keep in a memory file.  Whenever you are missing your loved one, you can look at the pictures and remember the joy without having all the stuff take up space.

Share their stuff with others that loved them – Allow family and close friends to choose something if they want.  Once you have decided what you must keep, allow others that loved them to choose something that brings them joy and reminds them of your loved one.  Keeping the love alive and their memories cherished.

Release the rest to the Universe – it is not your job to distribute each and every item individually.  It is not your job to know where everything is going.  Send possessions off to Goodwill and allow the universe to get those possessions in the hands of those that most need them.  You do not have to do all the work! Send them with love and let them go.


Get Help – If this task is just to big and too much for you to tackle on your own then ask for help.  A trusted friend, family member or a professional.  Getting help can make the process quicker and easier than doing it alone.  Be honest about what you can handle on your own and ask for help when you decide you are not able to do it by yourself.  There is no shame in needing help during a difficult time. This help will need to be firm but loving to keep you moving.

BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF – there is no easy way to do this task.  Be patient and kind to yourself, take breaks when you need them and don’t forget to breathe as you go. 

You cannot keep everything of a loved ones.  That is the hard truth, but you can keep the memories.  Your memories of your loved ones are yours to keep.  No one can take those from you.  Remember the joy, remember the fun, remember the love.    

If you feel you cannot do this alone, I would be honoured to help you through this process.  Come join our Support Group or contact us for one on one care. With gentle guidance and support we can move you forward through this difficult task. 

Honouring you and your loved ones,

Kim xox

www.ClutterSupportGroup.com

 

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES 300 X300Ah... memories! Are your memories attached to things? Remember the time you took that trip to Florida (which now are stored in many trinkets you got on that trip all those other trips), the smell of grandma’s home (which is now stored in your kitchen, full of her old baking pans and utensils), the way little Johnny looked in those sweet little overalls (which are now stored in your basement in a box with other sweet clothes of your kids)

I had the pleasure of working with a wonderful senior lady the other day, helping her unpack and settle into her new bachelor apartment at a senior’s home. She had gone through several transitions over the past year from having an unexpected move from her home into a 2-bedroom apartment and then only a few short months late having to move again to this new location due to illness.

I was reminded about how we collect a lot of our memories in ‘things’ but at some point we cannot physically keep it all, and we don’t always know when that time will come for us. As I unpacked her worldly possessions she reminisced about how she had gone from 75 boxes (her first move) to only a few boxes and possessions…each precious piece she kept had a story and memory behind it and I was regaled with stories as I unpacked. But the one thing she kept mentioning was how relieved she was to not have to deal with 75 boxes this time around.

Our houses are being overrun by the past, by the physical reminders of these precious memories we can’t seem to let go of. This includes the aforementioned travel trinkets, pictures, old dishes, children's clothes, family heirlooms, and more. And these things are all being stored in boxes, bags, in totes, on shelves, in cupboards – anywhere and everywhere in our homes. 80% of them never seeing the light of day until it's time to move.

I always ask clients to think about how they are honoring the memories of this stuff if they are shoving it in a closet and complaining about it being in the way. How much space do you really need to live? How much stuff do you really need and use? Are you surround yourself with yesteryear’s trinkets and sentimental clutter? Are your memories attached to things?

If you are ready to release some of this sentimental clutter and downsize for your life today here are some tips: 


7 TIPS ON LETTING GO OF SENTIMENTAL CLUTTER:

  1. TAKE A PICTURE - the digital footprint takes up a lot less space than keeping the actual item.

  2. SAVE ONE TO REPRESENT MANY - If you have a collection of similar items pick a favorite to keep the memory alive. A single favorite baby outfit, One of the teacups from your grandma’s collection or a Mickey Mouse from all your Disney visits.

  3. GIVE IT NEW LIFE BY GIVING YOUR STUFF TO SOMEONE ELSE - Give your stuff new life by giving them to someone else. Think about how you honor the items by giving them away- if you have too many tables, dishes and useful things that other people need, are you allowing them to fulfill their role by keeping them hidden in your basement taking up space but not being used.

  4. TAKE TIME FOR THE MEMORIES - Take a stroll down memory lane, just don't get lost there.  Take a minute to reminisce and be sentimental. Say a little thank you for the memories and good times and then let it go.

  5. RELEASE THE NEGATIVE ENERGY - If it has bad memories…get it out of your space! If you look at the object and all you can think of is memories that make you sad, mad, resentful or any other negative emotion then let it go. Life is too precious and short to get lost in the negative sentiments. 

  6. CRY IF YOU WANT TO - Understand that feeling sad and wanting to cry is a normal part of the process. Embrace the feelings, let them flow and then let it go. It is all part of mourning the release of a cherished item.

  7. BE OPEN TO HELP - Be understanding with yourself if you cannot do it alone. Sometimes we all need someone to help us through tough times, get someone who is understanding, compassionate but cans still challenge you to help you move past the sentimental attachment and see your stuff as stuff! If you don’t have someone like this in your life, then give me a call…it is my passion to help people gently move through this process and release their clutter.

Letting go of sentimental clutter can be an emotionally draining process, but in the end can be freeing.  Sometimes circumstances force us to take action like my client, but I like to think we can make these choices on our own terms before it is too late.  Releasing what you no longer need, clearing your space for living in the NOW and as a bonus ensuring the burden of clearing out all those memories do not get passed down to our loved ones.