In our line of work, frequently we deal with many organizational projects happening under emergency circumstances. Two common cases are relocation & death. With a job change, families are rapidly moved across the country because of their employment status, and certainly no one can prepare for the loses a parent or a partner. In both cases, the rapid change can leave you scrambling to prepare for organizing for a move during a difficult & emotionally sensitive time.

We recently came across this article by Diane Schmidt who talks about the most compassionate way to prepare and organize for a move under stressful circumstances. She talks personally about her own experience with organizing for a move after the passing of her mother & offers some great tips for how to sensitively handle a move after the passing of a loved one:

Identify Where You’ll Take Your Extra Things

After the death of our mother, my sister and I spent a few months going through her things, trying to determine where we would take everything and who would get what. It was difficult. We didn’t want to part with anything as our mother’s belongings were all we had left.

When faced with this problem, I found it easier to deal with after deciding where her things would end up. I felt better giving her clothes to her sister than to a charity (although the charity would have found deserving homes), or her bedroom suite to my sister who I knew would care for it and treasure it.

So, before you even decide what you need to give away, decide where it will go; relatives, friends, charities, or to auction. Make a list, then as you go through the house, start placing items next to the receivers.

Go Through Each Room and Ask Questions

First, start with the areas of your home that you don’t use much, such as the attic, the basement, the laundry room or spare room. It’s easier to get rid of belongings from rooms that are mostly used for storage. There is less sentimental attachment and more items that are simply being stored rather than used.

Pack as you go. Gather packing supplies and slowly make your way through each room. Sort, pile and pack. Keep items you’re donating or giving to friends or family in one room or area of the house, preferably somewhere that you don’t go very often. Or better yet, once you have a lot of items ready, call the people whom you’d like to have it, whether it’s your family or a charitable organization. Get items out of your reach as soon as possible. It’s so easy to change your mind or to start pulling items out of the pile.

And as you go through each room, ask yourself some questions about each item:

  • When was the last time I used this?
  • If I do use it, how often and why? What purpose does it serve?
  • Do I own another item that can serve the same purpose as this one?
  • Is this item something I love? Does it have sentimental value that can’t be replaced?
  • Can I get by without it? Would I have to replace it if I choose to get rid of it?
  • Is it in good shape? Will it last for a long time?
  • Does it need repair, and if so, how much will that cost and is it worth the price?
  • Do I know someone else who would benefit a lot more from its use?
  • Does it serve a purpose in this new life that I’m moving to?

Be Kind to Yourself or to the Relative that’s Moving

Remember, moving isn’t easy; it presents a significant change that’s both physically exhausting and in most cases, emotionally draining as well. Add to that the fact that you or a loved one is downsizing, moving from a beloved family home to a condo or retirement community. That’s even a bigger change that touches an even deeper emotional trigger. So, remember these thoughts as you start this new stage in your life:

  • Be sensitive to yourself or to the relative that’s moving.
  • Remind yourself that you’re goal is not to get rid of everything you hold dear, but to simplify your life.
  • Be patient and kind.
  • Be understanding if you or your loved one is upset.
  • Give yourself time to work through it. If you’re tired, rest. Take a break. Go for a walk. Talk to someone.
  • Allow yourself to grieve the loss.
  • If you’re having a difficult time, ask for help.
  • If you can’t decide on an item, remember that it can go into storage until you’re ready.
  • Allow yourself or your relative to remember. Belongings all contain memories, so take the time to reflect. It’s an important step in possibly letting go.