What do you do with your parents’ belongings when they pass on…

This is a tough one for most of us. I’ve spoken to many people in the close to 7 years since I began my decluttering business who have stacks of sealed boxes of their parents’ belongings; they struggle with storage in their home, and often with being able to let go of Mum and Dad’s things.

Let me tell you how it was for me and my family when we had to make these difficult decisions. Perhaps it was a little easier for us because when it came time to pack up their house our Mum had already been in care for over two years with advanced Alzheimer’s. When the time came that Dad also needed full time care and had to move out of their home it was crunch time. We had to clear out a house that our parents had lived in for over 35 years. In the end we kept very little, it boiled down to just keeping what was precious to us. Everything else we gave away to charity.

When I said earlier that perhaps it was easier for us, I meant we were not yet mourning their passing so I’m sure there was less pain than if they had already left us. We were also fortunate in that we had been brought up not to hoard our possessions; the memories and love were more precious than material items. I still firmly believe that, even after they both eventually passed away.

I have never and would not attempt to tell anyone that they should “get rid of” their parents’ things. What I do try to do is help them let go of the boxes and boxes of things taking up much needed space in their own home. I also suggest they ask themselves if their parents would want them to hold onto their belongings, packed away in boxes and not being used by anyone.

Perhaps putting the emotion to one side temporarily one or two of these suggestions might work for you:

– Clothes: there are so many families in need in our community, consider donating to our charities.

– Furniture: if you’re not using it, and it can’t be recycled, you could give it away or sell it.

– China and glassware: if you have the space and want to keep some favourite pieces then I suggest you enjoy using it. Or you could create a pretty display in a cabinet where you can see and appreciate the pieces.

– Personal items: these may be jewelry, collectors’ items, photos, music collections etc. These are the things that will have more meaning for us and can be kept and contained in different ways. Pretty decorative boxes, which can stack on top of each other, can be used to store memorabilia, photos, music and favourite cards. Collectibles can be beautifully displayed on shelves, bookcases, and even hung on the wall.

Above all, I believe we can always find space for these special items which evoke such wonderful memories. When we can let go of what we know we don’t need or want, and just keep what we love, there’s great satisfaction and joy to be had.

And one final word, if you do find yourself in this sad position, why not enlist the help of someone who you know will be empathetic and will walk down memory lane with you as you sift through the belongings of those who will always be so special to you.

I send you warm wishes and happy days.

In Joy!

Angella Gilbert

P: 09 410 4166
M: 027 224 8937
E: angella@gioia.net.nz
W: www.gioia.net.nz

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