You are currently viewing Who gets what and what to keep

Who gets what and what to keep

When our loved one leaves this earth unexpectedly, they often do not leave us with their expectations of what happens with their stuff. And, all of a sudden, they are gone, and we are surrounded not only by the memories of our relationship but also by all the physical stuff that they have left behind. It can be overwhelming just thinking about it. Know that any and all feelings about their stuff are normal. It’s OK to let them flow, and you get to deal with it on your own timeline.

What to do with all of it?

What do we keep? What do we get rid of? Who gets what items? 

What would they want others to have, and what would they want me to keep?

What should just be donated or thrown away?

Sometimes, people will ask for what they want (some will be polite, and others, well, they may be more demanding). Some may help themselves. Some may never ask but wish you had given them that thing. Remember, this is YOUR journey. You can take it at your pace and your comfort level.

If there are items that you know your loved one would have wanted to go to certain people, you may want to give those items to them when you are comfortable with those items leaving your place. You may also find that there are items that you no longer want to have in your life as they no longer serve you in your new journey.

Jeni’s viewpoint – In the beginning, when the grief fog surrounded me, getting rid of anything of his was like losing him all over again. Slowly, I was able to let go of some items. There were times when I allowed something to leave and still felt pangs of loss at letting it go. After a while, I began to realize that most of it was just “his stuff” and not him. While there are still things I keep for sentimental reasons or because they are items I want to keep, I no longer feel like I am losing him each time I allow some stuff to leave the house.

There are some who still feel that there is more I need to either get rid of or give to them. That is their opinion, and that is ok. I will keep what I have chosen to keep, and when I feel it is right, I will then give these items out.

Teresa’s perspective – There was so much of Kris’s stuff to deal with, from his boy toys to the mundane. We had the wrecked motorcycle to deal with – thankfully, a friend dealt with that for me, the dang boat that sorta ran, our huge family 5th wheel RV that I was in no way going to drive – couldn’t even stomach entering it, fishing gear, tech gear, the massive tool bench and tool boxes, guns, camping gear and a shed of stuff, closets full of clothes and shoes. 

For a long time, nothing was touched, and we kept it all. Some folks helped themselves, others asked, and I said sure, take it. I couldn’t fathom what to do or sort out. Eventually, I started sorting things. Donating old clothes and shoes, throwing away trash outdated and unusable items. I was grateful to sell the boat to a close friend who restored it and enjoyed it for years. A friend drove the RV, and I sold it for a fraction of what we bought it for. That was a gut-wrenching moment to realize those precious memories were all we had left. 

I kept and saved all of the fishing and camping gear, guns, and tools for the boys. Together, we sorted the tech gear, his clothes, and shoes. When they became adults and had homes of their own, I was able to share the tools and guns, and we sorted the camping gear and tools. I still have his backpack, some hiking gear, and a few tools.  A good friend suggested I make memory boxes of items that would be meaningful to them and shared memories. Each boy had one, and with special items that were their dad’s. That was a terrific piece of advice and was enjoyable to put together for them. I also wrote a letter for each of them to read when they opened it. Haven’t decided when to give them their boxes yet. I’ll know when the time is right.

Whatever you decide to do, it is your decision. There are a lot of emotions and feelings that occur with grief, and many of these emotions attach themselves to the items our loved one left behind. As we travel along this journey, there will come a time when we can address the stuff. Take your time. Travel on your timeline. You can make the decisions when you feel the time is right.

Peace & blessings,
Jeni & Teresa

PS: For additional support, you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss

The First Days: Coping with Life After Loss is a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback.

My Journey as a Widow: A Widow’s First Journal  is a follow-on journal for processing complex emotions and moving forward with hope available on Amazon in paperback.

Follow us on Social Media: