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When is the right time to pack up loved ones’ belongings after they pass away?

To keep or not to keep is the pressing question. In all sincerity, there’s really no subscribed time frame allotted for addressing what to do with a loved one’s things. You decide when it’s right for you. One reality holds true: dismantling, divvying up, dividing, hashing out, or any other way you view removing or retaining your loved one’s possessions; it’s an emotionally overwhelming task to approach. 


The Struggle Is Real

When loved ones drift into the world beyond, all we have to hold is all the earthly goods they left behind. Deciding what to do gnaws at us. We may think, “I need to go through these things,” We pause, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow.” We wrestle between the pain of holding these tangibles in the space we shared with our loved ones and the comfort of how their things soothe our hearts. One part of us wants to flee from it all, and the other part of us yearns to pull every trace of them ever so closely towards us. What are we to do? Keep it or let it go?

It’s Personal When to Let Go

When is the right time to pack up loved ones’ belongings after they pass away? Who knows? It’s personal. Only you know when it’s time to let go of loved ones’ belongings. Some people need memories compartmentalized. They keep a few momentos and surrender everything else to family, friends, and donation organizations. They find peace in the closure. Others leave all possessions at ease in the space their loved ones left. Interacting evokes too much sorrow. It’s better to leave things as they are for a while. If you find yourself in this space, it’s totally okay. Hakuna Matata, no worries. Still, some of us want to leave things as they remain for the comforting memories that steady our achy hearts. 


One Thing to Remember

You’ll know when it’s time to transition. No one should coerce you into packing up or shifting anything around. Family and friends with good intentions may feel it’s time for you to clear the space, but resist any notion that makes you feel like a rushing wind pushing you. You don’t have to move or pack anything until you’re good and ready. Even resist the urge to place unrealistic pressure on yourself. Why pressure yourself? Why set yourself up for worry? Think about it. When you’re ready to make any changes, take it slow. If your emotions begin to snowball, take a break. Place no demands on yourself. Make room for the flood of emotions that accompany every opened drawer and closet. Allow space to reminisce. Sometimes, that’s all we need–time.

Accept the Inner Conflict

Ultimately, we must embrace the inner conflict. One minute we want everything gone, and the next, we want to hold on to every breadcrumb. We pack several bags for donation; before we know it, we’re retrieving items from the bag. It’s a dastardly dilemma, but it’s ours. It’s a hot-cold and love-hate experience. It feels like brutal wrangling of wills–keep it or let it go to bless others. A thought dashes across the mind, and we softly smile, and then a tender tear releases from the corner of an eye. Again, it’s okay. We’re free to decide what to do with these treasures another day. Sorting through clothes, paperwork, workspace, personal drawers, and cubbies stirs up a myriad of emotions. It’s no wonder some of us just want to avoid the whole ordeal indefinitely. 

Working Through the Finality of It All

I think the most sobering reality about packing up a loved one’s personal possessions is the finality of it all. Somehow, the longer those items remain in their assigned position, the reality that a loved one ceases to be, gets held at bay a bit longer. The process is customized by our ability to cope, moment by moment. So, when is the right time to pack up loved ones’ belongings after they pass away? Whenever you feel up to the task, keep what brings you comfort and bless others when releasing belongings. If you want a reputable donation source, consider using Pickup Please, a veterans’ group at http://pickupplease.org. Grant yourself and others a little more grace as we embark upon what to do with our beloved ones’ belongings.


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