One drawer at a time...
Cleaning the closets and drawers after someone dies is one of the hardest things to do. Some people leave it for weeks or months because they just can't bring themselves to do it yet... and others move everything right away because they can't bear to look at it. I get both of these responses. Neither is wrong or right and much like grief in general, we need to allow them to do this on their terms, when they are ready and how they feel best to process it. Our role is simply to be there for them if they need us.
These are a few tips that I recently offered a widow who was really struggling with this process:
1. Tackle one drawer/ section of the closet at a time. Don't rush through it. Take your time, and go through each item and really savor the memories if you can. And don't give anything away too quickly.
2. Ask friends and family if they would like anything. Some people will find comfort wearing a hat, shirt or sweater that belonged to someone they love. I still have a sweater that was my dad's and although I do not wear it often, I love that I have it.
3. Create three piles; save, gift and donate. Once you have this organized it will make things a little easier for you. And don't hesitate to ask a friend to drop the donations box off for you, it is one less thing you have to do, and it allows your friends to be helpful... which most want to be.
4. If you can't bear to let go of the collection of concert or sports t-shirts, favorite sweaters or jackets, or even the 152 business ties... find someone who can sew and ask them to make a quilt. It is a lovely thing to have, and it keeps their things close to you in a way that can be comforting and help you work through your grief.
5. For the little trinkets, the jewelry, the special things that meant a lot to them... find a box, a special box that you pick out especially for this... and place each item in there for safe keeping... and open it any time you want to. xo
The most important thing that I think you should remember is that this is never something you have to do right away. Take your time and do not hesitate to ask a friend or family member to help you... we get how hard this will be for you and we want to help you in any way that we can... you don't have to do these things alone. But... if you want to, if you need to... we respect that too.