It’s incredibly difficult to lose a loved one.  Not only are you in a state of mourning but your list of things to accomplish seems never-ending, from contacting family friends to planning a memorial service to making decisions about your loved ones’ belongings.  This last decision is not one you should make immediately; give yourself some time to grieve before dealing with what is often a very difficult issue that brings up the pain and grief of having lost an integral part of your life.  The amount of time a person needs before sorting through their loved one’s belongings varies from person to person, it is a personal choice so do not let others pressure you into making decisions before you are ready.  When you are ready to start the process here are some tips to help you:

Do Not Do This Alone

If at all possible, do not do this alone.  It is much better to have someone with you through the process, supporting you. Start by simply organizing.  That gives you a starting point, making it easier to face what often seems like a daunting process.  In addition, as this is very emotionally draining, take breaks along the way to try to ease the pressure.

Carefully Choose the Timing

We all have good days and bad days, good moments and bad moments.  If you are not a morning person, then do not do this in the morning.  If this day is particularly emotional, then do not start the process today.  Do not push your feelings aside; listen to them. Try to start the process on a day when you are feeling a little stronger, when you can have someone else with you to provide support.


As memories come up during the process, take the time to reminisce.  Allow yourself to laugh and even make jokes as you look through your loved ones’ possessions and memories surface.  Allow yourself to cry as well, if that is where you emotions take you.  Decide which memories you want to keep for yourself and which you want to pass on to family or friends.  Your memories are more important than things, so keep only those items with the strongest, best memories.

Take Your Time

Do not rush through the process.  These are not easy decisions and are emotionally draining.  It does not all have to be done in one day.

Have a Conversation

As you go through the process, hold a conversation with your loved one.  Think about what they would say regarding a certain item.  How did they feel about it?  Would they want you to keep it?

Choose a Place of Honor

Find a place to display the items of greatest sentimental value to you.  If an item is not useful or have sentimental value then get rid of it.

Do Not Feel Guilty

Do not feel guilty about giving away or throwing out your loved one’s possessions. They no longer care about possessions and they will not be hurt if you do not want to hold on to some items for yourself.

Take Pictures

If you want to remember an item but it is not practical to keep it, take a picture to keep as a reminder.

Honor Your Loved Ones’ Memory

Think about how your loved one felt about an item.  Was it an item that was especially important to them, that they would want to see being used, such as a tool or a sewing machine?  Then pass the item along to someone who will put it to use. Is it an item they would like to see donated to a favorite charity?  Then donate it to that charity.  Your loved one would not want you to hang on to all of these possessions.

In Conclusion

Deciding what to keep after a loved one passes away is difficult and emotional. Take your time and throughout the process keep your loved one’s memory with you, helping you make the difficult decisions.