There’s no pain like losing someone you love. As if grief is not daunting enough, survivors are often left dealing with stressful tasks after the passing of a friend or family member. One of the most challenging and emotional of those tasks is the sorting and organizing of any possessions that belonged to the late loved one. But with these meaningful tips, you can take some of the pain and stress out of this difficult step.
Manage as Much Self-Care as You Can Right Now
Before you start taking care of your list of tasks, pause for just a bit so you can come up with a list of basic self-care practices to preserve your well-being during this difficult time. Even simple self-care steps, like decluttering your home, can be effective in reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. If you cannot bring yourself to declutter your entire home, at least work on setting up your bedroom as a calming space that promotes restorative sleep. Keep your room dark when trying to rest, and dial back your thermostat before settling into bed. Those tiny measures can make a big difference when you are trying to get the sleep you need to heal and power through the difficult tasks ahead.
Consider Hiring a Professional to Handle Decluttering
From funeral arrangements to estate settlement, consulting experts will help take the weight of these emotionally-charged decisions off your shoulders. But sorting through your loved one’s belongings can be full of emotions as well, so before you tackle this project on your own, consider hiring an organizer. With your heart and head already overwhelmed by grief, you may have a hard time deciding what to keep and how to organize all on your own. A professional organizer can help you stay objective and get through this challenge much more quickly.
Be Prepared to Encounter Grief
Hiring a professional organizer may not be in your budget. It may not even be your preference, given the personal nature of the tasks you are carrying out. If you decide to go through your late loved one’s possessions on your own, make sure you have a solid understanding of the work ahead of you. Give yourself time to declutter and sort through everything, especially if you’ve shared a lifetime with your departed loved one. Parting ways with so many memories can take a lot of energy, so you may even need to wait a while before you begin. Also know that any emotions are normal during this process, so be patient with your heart as well.
Take Your Decluttering Efforts (and Your Grief) Step by Step
Beginning the decluttering process is often the hardest step, but once you feel up to the task, staying organized with your efforts will help this transition go smoothly. Start with the areas that need the most attention, and work your way through your home at your own pace. Sticking to your comfort zone is important, because the way we process grief is different for everyone. Your emotions can come pouring out all at once or may wash over you in smaller waves. If you begin to feel overwhelmed during the decluttering process, don’t hesitate to stop and only start again when you have regained your strength.
Seek Out Support for Your Grief When You Need It
You already know that grief is a very personal process. It’s normal to feel angry, sad and confused about the loss of your loved one. However, if those feelings begin to sink deeper into feelings of depression, it’s time to reach out for help. Complicated grief often requires a more proactive approach to resolving overwhelming issues. You may feel comforted by joining a local grief support group, or you may be better off seeking out professional grief counseling. Having a little extra support can be meaningful during such an emotional journey.
Be kind to yourself as you grieve. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to declutter everything all at once, and only take on what you can handle. This is a difficult time for your mind, body and emotions, so be sure to make yourself a priority.
By Lucille Rosetti, survivor and founder of The Bereaved