Losing a loved one is never an easy time. The days and weeks following the death of a family member or friend may be some of the most emotionally charged times of your life. People are often left wondering what to do when a parent dies or how to move on day by day. Thankfully, these difficult days are often met by the empathy and compassion of those who love you. Support and love from all around help to keep life on an even keel as you find your way to a new normal. Still, even after the funeral and the luncheon have concluded, some important tasks remain for the immediate family. In most cases, the last will and testament of the deceased will be read and honored, and in some cases, the estate will be divided or sold.
When someone passes away, decluttering their house is probably the farthest thing from the family’s mind, but it is a task that often needs to be handled, especially if the property will be sold. An estate cleanout can take days or weeks, all depending on how much clutter has accumulated over the years and how many loved ones are pitching in to help. It can still be a very emotional time when you finally decide to clear the clutter.
Here are a few tips on how to clean out a house after someone dies.
- Bring a number of trashcans and trash bags, moving boxes, plastic storage bins, and other supplies to help you handle the clutter.
- Sort and organize the home’s contents into five essential piles—keep, trash, donate, sell, and store. Handle items in those piles accordingly.
- Differentiate the sentimental items from the clutter. Rely on other family members to help complete this vital process.
- Share and divvy up favorite keepsakes amongst your immediate family and consider boxing up any other sentimental items for another time. Be prepared for possible clashes over who will take ownership of various items and try to work through it amicably.
- If you don’t have ample storage space for the boxed items you want to save, consider a secure and affordable self storage unit as a safe place to keep sentimental items.
- Avoid the urge to purge everything or to save everything for the sake of getting through it. Giving yourself time to relive some memories after a loss can be cathartic for the soul.
- Take your time to help you avoid future regret over items discarded without discretion. Focusing on the task at hand can also prevent you from simply moving the clutter to a different location.
- If you and your family are not able to handle the estate cleanout yourselves, you can look into companies that clean out houses for a little assistance.
A cluttered house can dredge up raw emotion as you relive moments from your past or as you struggle to make sense of a lifetime collection of belongings. This is all part of the healing process. Remind yourself that what may have been important to your loved one may not hold the same value to you and the other family members. Understand that this is okay and that the items served their purpose. Then give yourselves permission to discard items as you see fit. You needn’t keep everything, and you certainly shouldn’t feel guilty over that.
At the same time, be sure to hold onto items that make you smile fondly, including family heirlooms, photographs, and other special keepsakes. It may take you some time to declutter, but through this process you will find healing and strength to carry you through the days ahead.
Our family at Price Self Storage is very sorry for your loss. We, too, are familiar with the difficult times of losing loved ones, and we hope that you will find the strength and support you need to feel whole again. Our team also wishes you luck with the cleaning and organizing process and we are here to assist with any of your needs for storage options or packing supplies.