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Cleaning and Organizing Your Home After a Loss

by | Jan 28, 2019 | For Families

tidy home

Even if you’re not an avid Netflix watcher, you may have recently heard of Marie Kondo. She is a “tidying expert” who developed a method of organizing known as the KonMari Method. Though she wrote a popular book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up years ago, she has gained recent popularity with her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

In the episode called Sparking Joy After Loss, Marie helps a recently widowed woman named Margie. Margie has lost her husband nine months prior and still had all of her husband’s many belongings.

Through the KonMari Method, she was able to let go of many of her husband’s belongings, go through her own, and begin to rebuild her life.

Going through your deceased loved one’s possessions is never easy — especially if they hold special memories. However, in order to continue your own life, sometimes it’s necessary to let go of some of these items.

We are highlighting some of Marie Kondo’s tips as well as some of our own to help you clean and organize your home after a loss of a loved one.

This is the second part of a two-part blog about death cleaning. Check out part one here.

Take Care of Your Own Items First

Before Margie even began to touch her late husband’s clothing, it was important that she went through her own. She was to lay every article of clothing she owned on her bed and decide if each item “sparked joy” — made her feel happy. Getting this task out of the way would make it easier to go through her husband’s stuff. However, when it was time to go through her books, Margie asked to bend the rules of the method a little. She felt it would be most helpful for her to finish the bedroom, which meant going through her husband’s clothes.

Going through a loved one’s items will be an emotional and difficult task. That’s why going through your own first helps you tackle this tough task with a less stressed and clear mind.

Use This as a Time to Reflect

When the time finally comes that you are ready to get rid of their items, use it as a time to reflect on the future and past. Ask yourself: What is my ideal lifestyle? What do I want my home to look like?

If you are a widow or widower, this may be the first time in a long time that you are making all of these decisions on your own. Use it as a time to decide what you really want, without having to take everyone else’s thoughts into account.

Also, as you go through their belongings, there may be some tears. There may also be memories. Letting go of most of their clothing may be hard, but keep in mind that the memories of your loved one don’t live in their items. They live in your heart and in your mind.

It’s Okay to Keep a Few Things

Just because it’s time to go through their stuff doesn’t mean you don’t deeply miss them. To make this process easier, keep a few of their items that mean the most to you. Margie kept a few shirts and cowboy boots her husband owned. These items represented who he was and how she remembered him.

Get a Support System

If doing this alone is too difficult, recruit some help! Having friends and family members help you will lessen the burden. It also is a great time to share memories and strengthen your connection.

Having them help you make trips to Goodwill, fold clothes, or have a garage sale will make this daunting process much easier.

Decide Where the Future Will Take You

As Margie cleaned and organized her home, she described it as a feeling of rebirth. She wanted to remember and honor her late husband, but at the same time seeing his overflowing drawers and clothes was a constant reminder of her loss.

Your loved one would want you to continue to live your own life, unburdened by having all their unused possessions. This is finally the time for you to think about yourself, your wants, your needs, and the road that lies ahead.

Do you have any tips for letting go of a loved one’s belongings? Share them by commenting below!


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