As the population ages, many adult children of older parents are facing the task of handling their parents’ belongings after they’ve passed away. This is a difficult experience, both physically and emotionally. Often, children are left to sort through decades’ worth of things, many of which carry a lot of memories, meaning, and emotional weight.
When a loved one dies, it can be difficult to know how to navigate this process. How should you start the process of decluttering your parents’ home? How do you decide what to keep and what to give away? What’s the best way to handle the grief that arises during the process? And should you hire professional moving help during the process?
In this post, we’ll discuss how to handle your deceased parents’ belongings, and what to keep in mind as you navigate this difficult season of life.
Let’s dive in.
5 Tips to Sort Through Your Parents Belongings After They’ve Passed Away
Whether you’re organizing the family home or going through boxes stored in a storage facility, these tips will help you handle the memories and the items themselves:
1. Be patient with yourself
Don’t feel pressured to start immediately after your loved one’s passing. If you have the luxury of time — even a little time — take it. You don’t have to start sorting through boxes immediately. You deserve to tackle the issue when you feel ready to do so.
If you can give yourself the grace of a few days, weeks, or months before you begin the process, go ahead and create this space. This will make it easier to navigate the experience when you do eventually dive into it.
If you need to move your parents’ belongings but aren’t ready to sort through them yet, the team at Master Movers can help you box everything up and take it to a storage facility, where it’ll be safe until you’re ready to deal with it.
2. Be realistic
After someone we love dies, it’s easy to let emotions take over. We feel like we need to keep everything because everything reminds us of them. Especially when it comes to our parents’ belongings. Unfortunately, that approach won’t bring your loved one back, but it will clutter your home.
Instead, it’s important to remain realistic as you sort through items. When you start going through the boxes, keep the following questions in mind any time you’re tempted to keep something:
How much room do you have?
With small items, like a treasured pin or piece of jewelry, space may not be a major consideration. With larger items, however, it can be a good way to make smart decisions about what to keep and what to donate.
If you can’t immediately imagine where the keepsake you’re holding would live in your home, chances are you don’t have room for it. Instead, give it new life by donating it or giving it away to a friend or family member.
What will you do with it?
This question may not help you sort through sentimental items, but it’s a great way to avoid keeping too much “stuff.”
For example, if you love that antique sofa but you already have a couch, you’ll need to either donate or sell the sofa or use it to replace your existing one. If you admire your mother’s old fur coat but know you’d never wear it out, you’re better off giving it away.
No matter what, make sure you’re not keeping large items just to keep them. If you’re going to hold onto something, it should have an obvious purpose in your life.
3. Don’t be afraid to donate items (and get help moving them)
Let’s face it: we can’t keep everything. Even though it’s hard to give a loved one’s belongings away, it’s a critical part of the grieving process. Sorting through these items allows us to remember the good times, honor the life of the person we lost, and then let go of the material items that don’t serve us any longer.
While giving items away can be difficult, there are a few ways to make it easier. Here’s what we recommend:
Donate to a charity of your choice. Clothing, furniture, and household goods are all in-demand donation items. Donate them to a local charity of your choice where they’ll go to help someone less fortunate.
Hold an estate sale. An estate sale is an excellent option if your loved one owned many rare, unique, or high-value items. Estate sales are usually trafficked by people with an eye for vintage and antique goods. As you sell the items, you’ll have a chance to tell their story and remember your loved one. You’ll also know that the items are going to homes where someone will appreciate them for many years to come.
Distribute items to family members. Spread the memories around by giving treasured items to other members of the family. Grandkids, nieces and nephews, and even close family friends may all appreciate mementos of your deceased loved one.
4. Find different ways to memorialize things
Instead of holding onto everything sentimental from your parents’ house, consider finding different ways to memorialize these items.
For example, instead of storing all of those old photos, have them scanned and uploaded into a digital photo album. Then, you can share the album with friends and family at will. Instead of keeping the entire jewelry box of costume jewelry, choose a few select pieces that speak to you and remind you of your loved one. Have old VHS tapes digitized and loaded onto thumb drives, and scan letters into a digital scrapbook.
These are simple steps that can go a long way toward reducing clutter while also allowing you to keep your treasured memories near.
5. Hire professional help
Don’t navigate this process on your own. Contact a skilled moving company to help you move some of the items into storage, take large items to donation stations, or help to get rid of the items you won’t be keeping. While you’re the only one who can sift through your sentimental items, a moving company can help you do the heavy lifting. Plus, since most teams offer packing, moving, and storage services, you have plenty of options for the kind of help you seek.
Master Movers: Our Mission is to Honor Your Memories
Losing a parent is a difficult process, and sorting through their treasured belongings can take months of hard, emotional work.
Here at Master Movers, we specialize in helping people like you navigate the most challenging moves in life. If you’re going through a loved one’s, or parents’ belongings, our team of compassionate, skilled movers can help.
Contact us today to learn more.