Question: After the funeral is over, families and friends resume their normal lives leaving many widows or widowers adrift in a home full of memories. Often their homes are packed full of things that need to be sorted through and given away. Some widows and widowers choose to move to another domicile due to finances or to be nearer to family members. This task often appears overwhelming. How do they tackle this big hurdle of moving or cleaning out their home? Any suggestions?
Answer: When a loved one dies a person usually suffers multiple losses. Part of these losses requires changing the way he/she lived before the loss to make a new life after the death. At some point, people are going to make this change by moving, or giving away items. They may need to sell possessions to make ends meet. This can be an extremely daunting task. Here are some suggestions that might help your families.
- Before A Death: If you are anticipating the death of a loved one, and it seems appropriate, discuss your future plans before he or she dies. Get their opinion. Talk to them about your ideas. Let them help you decide what personal items should go to people and/or organizations.
- Determine if a move is really necessary: Consult with a financial planner/CPA/relatives. Look at income and expenses to decide what the best possible method of living for you will be.
- Moving is a big change. Death is a big change. If possible, do not try to move closely on the heels of your loss. If possible, give time for the dust to settle, for a new routine to develop, and to look at places you want to go. Time will give you a more objective view of your situation.
- Make A List: Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish within the next year regarding your housing situation. Be specific. Make goals month by month. Enlist a “helper” to give you support. This could be someone to tell about your goals, and to help chart your progress each month. Look for someone to come into your domicile to help you organize, lift, sort, and remove.
- Inviting Friends & Family: If your loved one has died recently, invite friends and family over to take mementos NOW that belonged to that person. Have them go through clothes, tools, kitchen appliances, hobby materials, etc. and take what they want. Give the rest away to a worthy organization. Many organizations will come to your home and pick items up from the curb.
- Cleaning House: Prepare for your move by throwing lots of unnecessary things away. Think in terms of recycling vs. giving or throwing away. That is, if someone else can use it, that has recycle value. If not, throw it out to make room for fresh air and space in the rooms as well as your emotions.
- Thinking About The Move: Take this opportunity to look at your lifestyle. Do you like to golf, swim, play cards, or socialize? Any one of those types of activities could determine the type of housing looked at for a future place to live. Do you like a religiously oriented community? Do you want to share meals with other people?
- Your intuition: When considering any changes, remember to listen to your intuition, and let yourself be ruled not only by what your “head” says you should do, but by what your “heart” or “gut” tells you is the best choice for you. Ultimately, no matter how much advice you get from others, the choices to make changes are yours, and you can reach inside yourself to find the right answers.