What to Keep When Someone Passes

There is no defining the feeling of loss because it is different for each and every one of us. When someone passes it can affect us in small and what might be perceived as insignificant ways or in huge categoric waves of sorrow. Either way, it is life changing.

Then, as time passes and the months or even years go by, the time comes when you have to decide what to do with the life they have left behind. Most people who leave this earth will leave behind possessions be it a couple of boxes or an entire estate.

The question is; what do you keep? What do you get rid of? Is it okay to get rid of anything? It can be an incredibly daunting situation to be confronted with, especially during such an emotionally raw and difficult time.  Below are some thoughts which may help:

Bring A Little Help

Make sure you reach out and ask for some help from trusted friends or family members. Most people want to help when they know someone who has experienced grief or loss but simply don’t know how. Even if they simply sit next to you and listen or provide emotional support, this is not a task anyone should have to tackle alone.

Choose your time

There is no right or wrong time, it doesn’t have to be done immediately, it doesn’t all have to be done together, for example, you may want to keep some special items of clothing that remind you of happy or special occasions. There is often a lot to be done so take your own time. From my experience most people seem to know when it feels right for them.

Prepare Yourself

Before trying to make any specific decisions about the little things and what to keep and what not to, take a walkthrough of the space you need to organise or have a look through the boxes you’ll need to sort so you can get a sense of the size and scale of what you’ll need to do so it’s not a complete shock. You’ll also be able to think about any supplies you might need like boxes, markers, labels etc.

Make sure to set yourself some kind of time-frame and don’t work for too long. It’s likely that whilst there will be fond memories it will be very exhausting both physically and emotionally and now more than ever is a time for self-care.

Trust Your Instincts

At the end of the day it is as simple as that. There is no right or wrong answer on what you should keep and what you should not. Try and be realistic – do you have the space? Is what you want to keep going to cause you issues or be a hindrance? Would they have wanted you to keep this or would they have liked it to be passed on?

Choosing not to keep something is okay – you have so many options other than keeping it such as;

  • Passing on to another family member or friend
  • Giving to charity
  • Recycling
  • Selling and buying something to remember the departed by or having a party to celebrate their life.

More often than not, when faced with the items before you, you’ll know what you want to keep and what you know in your heart is okay for you to let go of. No one will judge you and no one will think anything of your decision.

Remember to focus on the things that matter and remember there is no obligation. Guilt will not help and at the end of the day it is your decision to make about what is meaningful and has a place with you.


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