Don't rush into anything
When somebody dies, it might seem like the right time to make some important decisions but we usually advise our families to wait and give it time, before making any big changes. We’ve heard of people deciding to move soon after the death of a partner, as the house seems too big, holds too many memories or they want to relocate nearer to younger members of the family. Again, we’d always suggest giving it time.
Moving house is stressful and, on top of a bereavement, is a lot to cope with. Also, most people find that they appreciate the friendship of local friends and neighbours in the period after a death and, moving to a new neighbourhood could be a lonely experience without those connections. Again, children might encourage you to move nearer to them but you may feel the need to maintain your local circle of friends for a little longer.
If you feel that a house reminds you too much of a loved-one and makes you sad, it’s important to remember that moving probably won’t rid you those feelings of bereavement. Of course, if you feel that you can’t bear to be alone in a house, then perhaps you could stay with a friend or relative for a little while?
If you shared your home with the loved-one who has passed away, then you will be surrounded by their possessions. Again, we’d advise not rushing into a big decluttering session straightaway. That said, if your loved-one died at home perhaps after a long illness, there might be items you want to remove fairly soon and perhaps medical and care equipment that you’ve been loaned and will need returning. Basically, start with throwing out anything with the least sentimental value.
If you can, though, give decluttering time and talk to your friends and relatives. If you’ve got children or other close relatives, then it’s often good to check if there’s something they might want that belonged to the person who died. Contrary to most television dramas, most relatives aren’t queuing up for the expensive heirlooms, instead they find most comfort in something simple, like a cap their grandfather always used to wear or their favourite mug. One lady told us recently that she was offered something from her Aunt’s home and, because her Aunt had always adored cats, took a couple of very simple cat ornaments from the book shelf, as they would bring back special memories.
We would suggest that you declutter slowly and in stages. Some people never throw out everything and find comfort from always seeing slippers by the door or their favourite books on the shelf.
Again, if you do decide to move a year or so down the track, then that might be the time to declutter a little more. Even so, we’d recommend avoiding being too ruthless, particularly if you are in two minds about an item. Take it with you to your new home and make that decision at a later stage.
Decluttering doesn’t have to be an entirely upsetting exercise either… many people draw comfort in looking through somebody’s possessions and remembering happier times. Again, it can be the most unlikely items which bring us joy to discover at a later stage and memories of a day out or time spent in the garden, for instance, come flooding back.
Also, if your loved-one supported a particular charity, it can bring some comfort to donate some of their belongings to one of their charity shops.
Our advice is don’t rush into making any big decisions after the death of someone close, just give it time.