After five years of helping people with their physical stuff, I have a new found respect for what happens with it when you die.
You have more options than you think… if you take the time to think.
I felt inspired to write this blog this morning because yesterday I spent the full day, along with 6 other professional organizers, clearing out one person’s estate. At the end of the session, one of my colleagues shared that this session really triggered a personal matter that they were currently facing with a deceased relative. They lived the closest to their deceased relative, but had no power in decision making. They currently feel helpless.
It is difficult work to sort through the belongings of someone you have never met. To see all their worldly treasures tossed into boxes and bags to be auctioned and donated (we do not take items to the landfill unless soiled beyond reuse). We take medications for disposal. We donate old prescription eyeglasses. We properly dispose of batteries and hazerdous wastes. It is a lot of work and I love what I do, but I see and hear of families who struggle to get this work done themselves. Oh, and they’re grieving a loss at the same time.
So, the focus of this blog is on your physical belongings. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to talk about it. You should know the options you have and how it is not morbid to talk about it.
If you feel comfortable, talk about it with everyone. It is such an interesting topic that we will all face one day, so why not talk about the possibilities? I recommend reading Elena Holodny’s blog post as well. Holodny’s post discusses what happens with your finances when you die.
*Side Note* If you find yourself thinking about your own death often then I recommend you check out a Mental Health First Aid Course. Both Emilio and I have taken the course and benefited greatly from the content.
So in the words of Madonna, “Let’s get physical.”
Things that can be done while you’re alive:
- Write a will and name an executor
- Read up on Swedish Death Cleaning
- Discuss with friends and family your wishes
- Declutter your space
- Get quotes on how much your stuff costs to “deal with.” Hint: it’s in the thousands.
- Get social and watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things with friends.
What happens with your stuff when you die:
- An executor of your Will will carry out your wishes. OR
- If no clear instructions are left any number of these situations could occur:
- In an ideal world your loved ones put their lives on hold to help empty your home (house, condo, room, etc).
- Tensions between those left behind arise.
- A garbage bin is rented and everything is tossed to a landfill.
- Movers are hired to empty the space.
- An auction house sells your items online.
- Professional Organizers are hired to sort, pack, move, auction, donate, and clear the space.
- Your items sit for a long period of time depreciating while legal counsel is sought.
The exciting part of all of this is you have the ability to design what will happen with your belongings.
You have the ability to make sure your treasures are left to those who will see them as exactly that… treasures not burdens.
It is as easy as starting a list or having a conversation with a trusted friend.
Have I left out any possibilities? Please share your thoughts below.
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