Let’s delve into the process of approaching the task of going through your loved ones belongings. I want to reiterate that there is no specific timeline for this, and there’s absolutely no rush to tackle it. Your grieving process is entirely your own, and you should take all the time you need.

However, I also understand that there may come a moment when you feel ready to face this task. If that time has arrived and you have your own reasons for wanting to do it, I’d like to offer guidance in the form of the “W” questions—Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How—to help you navigate this emotionally significant process:

Who: Who would you like to involve or inform about this process? Do you want to do this alone, or would you like to reach out to a trusted friend or family member to help you. The decision is entirely your, but it may be beneficial to receive extra emotional support by simply letting someone close to you know that you’ll be embarking on this task.

What: What are your motivations for going through your loved one’s belongings? Reflect on the reasons behind your decision to bring clarity and purpose to this undertaking.

Where: Where will you begin? Identify a specific area or items you’d like to start with. Choosing a manageable starting point can make the process feel less overwhelming. You don’t have to tackle everything at once. Begin with a single drawer, a closet, or a box.

When: When do you feel emotionally prepared to start? Decide on a date or time frame that aligns with your emotional readiness. Remember that it’s okay to take breaks or pause if needed.

Why: Why do certain belongings hold special meaning? As you go through items, take time to remember and cherish the memories they represent. Reflect on the emotional significance of each item, share stories, express your feelings, and allow yourself to grieve as needed.

How: How will you determine the fate of your loved one’s belongings? I recommend organizing items into four distinct categories:

  • Keep for Yourself: Items that hold deep personal significance or sentimental value to you.
  • Keep for Other Family Members (or Friends):Belongings that others may cherish or find meaningful.
  • Donate to Charity: Items you’d like to contribute to those in need, allowing your loved one’s legacy to extend its positive impact.
  • Dispose of: Items that are no longer of value or are not suitable for donation.

Additionally, you may consider a fifth category:

  • Sell: Belongings that hold value and could potentially benefit you or others through a sale.

This method provides a structured approach to honoring your loved one’s legacy, ensuring that their belongings find purpose and meaning. Always remember that there is no universal formula for navigating this journey. Your unique path is valid, and your emotional well-being should remain your top priority throughout the process.