Helping families and friends after bereavement

After the shock of bereavement and the condolences and the arrangements, someone has to sort out the belongings and paperwork. It’s the job of the executor of the will to do this: hard, but it has to be done.

No-one is exempt from bereavement. At Uncluttered we’ve been there, as friend, member of the family, and executor. We’ve also worked closely with bereaved clients, going through relatives’ personal belongings together.

Everyone reacts differently but here are a few pointers which might help if you’re faced with this task.

Signpost surrounded by cow parsley in full bloom. Bereavement
Deciding what to do next can be a challenge

Take your time and do what you can

◆ Think about what has to be done and draw up a plan of action.
◆  If you don’t have to empty a house or flat immediately, then take as much time as you need.
◆  Go at your own pace. Some people can sort everything out in a few weeks. Other people take many years.

Think about who could help you after bereavement

Two people talk and listen to one another
Someone who will listen can be helpful after bereavement (photo credit: Alan Cleaver)

Clearing someone’s possessions can be too much to do alone but think carefully about helpers as this is a potentially tricky area. Everyone is sensitive after a death in the family and emotions can run high. It could be that no-one is available locally to help out or that it’s impractical for anyone to lend a hand.

Options for help could be:

◆ someone with you all the time as you clear
◆ extra pairs of hands at different points in the process
◆ someone to talk things through with
◆ someone unconnected and objective.

Be kind to yourself after bereavement

Sorting through possessions and paperwork is tiring and dehydrating at the best of times. When it’s those of someone dear to you then it can be exhausting and sometimes overwhelming.

◆ Take breaks and drink water. Have a snack to keep your energy levels up.
◆ Leave the house if you feel you must – one Uncluttered client went for short walks around the block, and sometimes much longer ones.
◆ Do something else if it helps – another client read a chapter of her book.

How could a professional organiser help you?

◆  By supporting and encouraging you in a gentle way.
◆  By helping you to make practical decisions about what to keep, how to pass things on, and organising clearance to charities or recycling centres.
◆  By helping you to feel positive and that you are moving forward.

Uncluttered is available to help you sort out belongings and paperwork after a bereavement. You can find other professional organisers on the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers website.

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