Thursday, August 15, 2019

The four P’s of sifting through your Loved one’s belongings…

This article was recently shared in one of our grief groups... please feel free to leave comments about your process.

The four P’s of sifting through your Loved one’s belongings…

Though the practical items may have deadlines and consequences if not quickly addressed, equally as important is to prioritize those which will help maintain your sanity.  That will vary from person to person.  Some people are going to feel like they are losing it if they can’t bag up everything immediately and start getting rid of it.  Other people are going to want to keep everything in its place for as long as possible.  Like so many things in grief, there is no right way or wrong way.  But one thing that is almost always helpful is to make a plan.  Bagging everything up and trashing it without thinking it through?  Not a good idea.  Avoiding going through items for years because you just don’t want to face it?  Also not a good idea!  Whenever you decide you are ready to start planning, consider the following questions:

PARTICIPANTS: do you want to do it alone or with support from others? 
If you plan to do it with others, who?  Think of close family members, but also consider friends who may be helpful.  Do you have a friend who is a good organizer?  Or one who is good at helping you make decisions?  If you are putting it off, tell a friend a goal date to get started so they can help you face the task.
PEOPLE:  If there are people who can’t be present, what items do they want you to keep?
Make sure to ask in advance and be very specific.  Throwing or giving away items that were of value to other family members can become a source of conflict.  Often one item that has little meaning to one family member can have significant sentimental value to another family member.  Don’t assume you know what might be important to other members of the family.
PRIORITIZE and PLAN: What order do you want to go through things? 
This may be dependent on priority.  For example, if your spouse owned a small business or took care of all the household bills, going through the office first will likely be a priority.  Room-by-room often makes sense, but decide what will work best for you.
PACE YOURSELF: How much time will you spend per “session” going through items? 
This can be an overwhelming process. Keep in mind you will probably stumble upon objects you haven’t seen in a long time and continuous reminders of the person you’ve lost.  It may be tempting to want to do it all at once, but taking breaks is important if it gets too overwhelming.

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