Thursday, August 13, 2009

Organizing in the event of a death

The loss of a loved one is difficult in so many ways. One of the challenges at a time like this is clearing out their home or closet, yet it is a task that must be handled.

If there is no statement of who is to get what item, I recommend bringing all the loved ones together and assigning them each a specific colored sticky note. Allow each person to go around the house or room and put their color sticky on any item that they would like to have. Have an agreed upon way to deal with any item that is wanted by more than one person such as a coin toss or a hat to draw a name from. You may be surprised to find that people tend to want very different things.

If there is still a great deal of stuff, consider having an estate sale. If you go this route, you simply need to get rid of the obvious trash or unsellable items and leave the rest for buyers to look through.

If you do not want to have an estate sale, you want to break the space up into small zones and tackle one zone at a time. Set up a pile for “donations” and a pile for “trash.” Mark your piles so it is easy to recall which is which when you get going. Now pull everything out of the zone and start separating it out. Once everything is separated, put the trash in the garbage can and the donations in your car to drop off or on the curb to be picked up.

Keep in mind that hiring a professional organizer can be a huge help at a time like this. People tend to attach their raw emotions to objects and keep things to remind them of their lost loved one. While it is fine to keep mementos, keeping too much or items you don’t have room for creates new problems. A professional organizer can help you to keep things in perspective and offer ideas on how to preserve memories without impacting your living space.

Meagan Farrell, professional organizer, is the owner of Clear the Clutter organizing services. She can be reached at (360) 631-7268 or at Check out her blog at

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