The heartbreaking inevitable has happened: you’ve lost a beloved loved one, and amidst your grieving, you have to go through and clean out their home and decide what to do with their belongings. Whether you’ve lost a parent, elderly relative, or friend, a loss is incredibly hard, and having to sort through your late loved ones’ things can be even more painful. Moving their belongings out of their living space can be a long and difficult process.
However, how you approach the decluttering process of your loved ones’ home can not only help you grieve this person, but honor them and help you to process and get closure on this loss. You can go through their old items and reminisce on fun times, sweet moments, or happy memories, all while clearing out their space and allowing yourself to let go of certain material items attached to them.
So what’s the best way of tackling this delicate stage, especially if you’re still in the mourning process? We’ve got some helpful ways to declutter and begin moving your late loved one’s home or items while honoring their memory.
How to Clean Out a Loved One’s Home
Cleaning out your late loved one’s home isn’t going to be an easy process, but it needs to be done! To help you get through the process, and to make sure you stay on track in the decluttering process without getting sidetracked, make a game plan to help you in organizing and clearing out the home.
- Find Important Documents
The first thing to do before you start any decluttering measures is to find your loved one’s important documents, if you’re aware of their storage in the home. If they’ve left these items in a bank box or secure location outside of their home, you won’t have to worry about this step.
To find important documents, try first looking for a safe or lockbox. You’ll want to find a will (if they had one), and physical documentation of home insurance, life insurance, bank account statements and information, bills or utility receipts, stocks, bonds, a birth certificate, social security card, passport, or any other identifying documents.
File these items away safely, or use the information on them to communicate with life insurance, home insurance, or other companies who may need to know of your loved one’s passing. You’ll also need to take their will to a lawyer or official office.
- Explore the Home & Take Stock
After keeping track of important documents, it’s time to go through your loved one’s home and take stock of not only what’s in the home, but what you’ll probably need to sort through and figure out what to sell, give away, or throw out. This is also a good time to determine if you’ll need storage services, a dumpster, or other vehicles to transport the purged items to their new locations (or to throw out!).
This step will also be very important for you to start in the step of processing this loss, and starting to handle it. Don’t just dive straight into throwing things away and cleaning out – take this step slowly and give yourself time to process and grieve. This step will also help you to get out any emotions or feelings that can be triggered by being in the space after your loss.
- Make a Plan
After going through your loved one’s home and taking stock of what you’ll be clearing out and how much there is to do, you’ll then want to make a plan for doing the actual decluttering and moving out.
You’ll also need to give yourself a time limit or goal for when you’ll want everything done by. This will help you to not procrastinate or take too much time reveling in memories – which is easy to do! This will also really help if you’re working within time parameters already and need the house cleared to sell or before another loved one heads out of the area after the funeral – or if you’re traveling to work on the decluttering process yourself.
When making your plan and time limit, make sure to factor in time for you to take breaks or just to take time for yourself throughout the process.
- Start the Decluttering Process
After surveying the house and making your plan, it’s time to actually tackle the tough process of decluttering and cleaning out rooms.
Take on this process one room at a time. Take on the biggest rooms first to get it out of the way, and make sure to go through every nook, cranny, cabinet, or box. Set aside particularly sentimental items, and have boxes ready to go for photographs or family heirlooms. You don’t want to lose those!
If you start to feel overwhelmed or very emotional during the process, don’t force yourself to continue. Take the time for a breather or to give yourself time away from the home.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Cleaning out one home by yourself is a huge task to take on, especially during such an emotional time. This isn’t the time to be independent and try to tackle this by yourself. Reach out to family or friends for help in the process.
This will not only make the process easier emotionally (as your support system will be there with you!), but it will also make decluttering faster and more efficient. Make sure those not familiar with your loved one’s items to double-check with you before throwing out things that look significant, or set aside important or sentimental items before the decluttering process begins.
- Categorize Cleared Out Items
It’s important to have a system in place during the clear-out process to designate which items are being kept, given away to family, donated, sold, or thrown away.
This will not only keep the house organized as you take it apart, but will make it so much easier to transport and sort things once the home clean out moving process has finished. If you’ve done this step, you’ll also be able to more easily bring stuff to donation centers or appraisers gradually, instead of having to transport large amounts of items all at once.
- Donate, Sell, or Throw Out Categorized Items
The logical step at the end of your clearing process is to bring your categorized and sorted items to their next location.
Bring donations to your local donation center, bring items you’d like to sell to appraisers (for more expensive items), and bring other items to family members, your own home, or wherever you’re giving them away to. Lastly, transport any trash to a dump, or put it out for trash pickup.
Throughout this process, there are a few other things to consider that may only apply to certain circumstances. Things like getting your locks changed if your loved one had spare keys distributed to a variety of individuals who you think might try to access the space while you’re not around, or forwarding your loved one’s mail to your own address.
If your loved one also had a will on-site that will need to be professionally dealt with by a lawyer, you’ll also need to bring that to the right place to get the inheritance process started between family members.
If your loved one has an especially large amount of items that could be of value, you also might want to look into having an estate sale for their things. This can make things a lot easier on you and the moving and clear-out process, since you’ll be able to sell things quickly and all in one spot.
At the end of the day, moving belongings out of a loved one’s home after a loss is no easy process, and requires a lot of planning and checking in with yourself. Don’t try to take on too much, and ask for help when you need it. You can also look into getting a professional to come in and help you with the decluttering and moving process for a fee.
What matters most during the decluttering and moving process is to know that by throwing out items, you’re not losing any part of your late loved one! Keep the most significant items, but don’t try to hoard everything. Process, grieve, and let yourself get emotional, but try to handle the process as efficiently as you can. This is one of the hardest aspects of loss, but you’ve got this! Have a plan, and don’t overwhelm yourself. There’s no right way to do this, but by knowing what your plan is, you’ll be helping yourself out a lot.
Moving Out the Remaining Items
Need to transport items or move things out of a loved one’s home? Look no further than Bekins Van Lines for all of your relocation needs.