Home Organization When You Lose a Loved One

2

Jan 7, 2013

home organization

I started working on a large home organization project last week and I wanted to share the process just in case you are in the same situation as my clients (a brother and sister) who lost their mother two years ago.  They have decided that it is time to sell her home which means the home needs to be cleared out before it can go on the market.  A few months after she passed away they had a junk removal service come to take away items that definitely needed to be disposed of.  As they sorted they boxed up the items like photographs, books, paperwork, and collectibles that they wanted to look at on a later date…

I worked on a project with the brother at his own home earlier in 2012 so he is familiar with Kuzak’s Closet and our organizing process.  We started with a consultation so I could see the home and come up with a plan of action and they decided to hire me to keep the project on schedule and to be an impartial voice.

paperwork

There are 2 bedrooms and an office upstairs along with a crawl space and a hall way full of boxes. Downstairs there is another bedroom that is full of collectibles and a garage with paperwork and furniture to go through.  Since there will be so many decisions to make on this project I decided that I would start with a room that would be easiest, a room full of boxes of paperwork and books.  Most of the items are old financial documents and bills that could be shredded (their mother saved everything!).

I set up sorting stations for us downstairs in the living room and Matt began to bring the 90 boxes down from the room upstairs.  I like to bring card tables to work on for most of my sessions because they provide a clear workspace and allow us to get things up off the ground.

We worked one box at a time and started to fill bags for shredding and recycling and keeping piles of sentimental paperwork and photos to the side.  My clients are ready to let go and trusted Matt and I to make decisions about what should be tossed which really help this part of the process speed along.  By the end of the first day we had 13 bags for shredding and 15 bags for recycling!

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Matt would help sort to get a break from moving boxes….

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After day one we had a few more boxes of paperwork and some boxes of household items to sort through in the morning on day two.  It took us a few hours to finish up that room leaving only books behind.  My clients were going to pick books that they wanted to keep over the weekend (homework) and the rest will be sold/donated to Book Buyers in Mountain View.

After we finished that space we moved on to one of the harder rooms in the house, their mother’s office.  Matt and I did a pre-sort in the afternoon dividing out sentimental items from garbage and items that could potentially be donated.   This is what we started with…

home office

home office

After two hours this is what we ended with…

home office

Matt is SUCH a big help for project like this.  Getting two of us is such a great value and time saver.  We sorted the items and as we cleared off furniture I had Matt carry it downstairs into the dining room, the area we are using a staging zone for Goodwill and giveaway to friends.

When we brought the bags of items that needed to be sorted through to potentially keep or donate my client’s sister had a small break down.  I knew it was going to happen at some point and I am glad actually glad that it happened that day.  This process is extremely difficult for family to go through and I completely understand what they are going through.  It was good for her to let it out 2 days into the project instead of holding it in until the very end.  We talked through her tears and decided that we should call it a day.

We need to wrap up the office, and then tackle the remaining bedroom, hallway, and crawl space upstairs along with a bedroom downstairs and the garage.  Here is a peak at what I will be working on this week…

Bedroom

bedroom

bedroom

books

We are also scheduling a bookstore to come and take the books, junk king to remove all of the garbage, and a trip to the shredder and the smart recycling station along with many trips to Goodwill and to my warehouse with things that need to be sold.

My #1 tip for organizing a home after a loved one has passed away is going room by room, don’t jump around.  It will keep the project on task and avoid you from getting overwhelmed.

My #2 tip is to add as many professional resources as you can.  You want dependable help that will keep you on task.  In most cases the average person will only need to sort through their own parent’s belongings some day.  In my business I help dozens of families each year making it easier for me to suggest how to start and complete a project.  There are lots of services like mine, go to the NAPO site for an organizer in your area.

I know I am going to have a great week in the midst of this big project and I hope you do too!

2 comments :

  • PAM

    Looks like a hugh job that you are making fast work of.

  • OneMommy

    I dread the day we have to go through my in-laws’ home. They are both hoarders. I never realized there were services like your to help people get through stuff. Definitely will have to keep that in mind!

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