Skip to Content

Sorting through stuff while grieving

From “Springs of Living Water,” the grief support e-newsletter of Optage Hospice

In seasons of caregiving and the losses that follow, you may also face challenging logistical tasks — not just the piles of the paperwork, but also, the stuff. Things your loved one collected or treasured or items that unearth long-buried memories (and sometimes tears).

It can be overwhelming to clear out a home or even a room when you are also experiencing the loss of your loved one. Where do you even begin?

Here are some suggestions for sorting through your loved one’s possessions:

  • Take your time. If possible, sort slowly. You may not know immediately what will feel significant later. Go gently and give yourself time to be with memories and emotions that come up.
  • Ask for help (but be selective). A friend, family member or professional organizer can help ease the process by offering accountability and objective opinions about items you are unsure about … but they can also complicate things. Try to find someone with similar values.
  • Consolidate. Shirts or dresses that are meaningful to you can be made into a quilt or teddy bear and bulky items you want to remember (but not keep) can be assembled and photographed. If your loved one was a collector, consider keeping just a few select items from each collection.
  • Give items new life. Some things may be meaningful to friends and family in your circle or to a young family just starting out. Even in seasons of loss, there can be moments of grace when you find a good home for things you can’t keep — and when you realize that which can never be replaced.

Upcoming grief groups (over Zoom)

Caregiver Connections:
Second Wednesday, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. monthly
          (Happening this month: Navigating Transitions, September 14, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.)

Caregiver Book Club: Loving Someone Who Has Dementia by Pauline Boss
First Thursday, 7:00 p.m. monthly (Begins September 8)
Grief Support:
Third Wednesday, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. monthly
          (Happening this month: Fall & Letting Go, September 21, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.)

If you are interested in joining a group or establishing one at your site, contact Chaplain Jenny Schroedel via email at [email protected] or call 651-341-7105.

Sign up for Springs of Living Water delivered to your email inbox monthly.

Back to top