I believe this sense of forgetfulness plays a role for all of us, but the older we get, the more we feel the need to hold on to items that keep such memories alive as we fear we’ll forget one day.
Those situations, however, are manageable in a way because there is a certain level of possible evaluation and finding a balance with the items that HAVE to stay and others that may have become less important. This slight opportunity disappears once the owner of all those things has passed away. All their belongings are sitting there and need to be sorted out by someone who not only may have limited knowledge of the intrinsic value of each single item.
On top of that, this task often falls to the friends and family who – at that moment – are in the middle of the grieving process. Not only will those who go through all the belongings have their own memories and emotions attached to certain items, places and situations, but they might feel guilty for disposing of anything and end up keeping things because they are afraid any choice they make will offend the deceased family member!
It's hard enough to assist a family member with their belongings, following nothing but the practical approach. Deciding where to take things once an elderly member of the family has finally decided to let go is complicated already. What to do with the old furniture or the good cutlery mum got for her wedding and has never used? Is it valuable enough to sell? How do we find out? Where do we go? What if it’s not worth the effort after all? All these practical issues can be challenging.
Besides all the emotional and practical issues associated that appear when dealing with a deceased’s estate, let’s not forget that in most cases, there is also a certain level of time pressure: Will the house have to be sold? And then there are internal discussions with the family: Who gets what? Are there any disputes between family members?
Doesn’t it sound reasonable to outsource this particular task to an independent agent acting under the guidance of the will’s executor or guided by consensus of the family and allowing them to make informed choices based on the person doing the work for them? That could involve sifting through paperwork, listing the contents in the household, organising things in a way that facilitates easy decision-making, and in some cases even include taking care of the sale of items, taking them away to the place that was decided upon.
Never underestimate the emotional stress a death in the family brings with it even for those who consider themselves emotionally stable. Grief brings out things you never thought were contained within the mind, and clearly this is not the time to add yet another difficult task to the load you already bear on your shoulders.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.