Last time on the we talked about how to get ready to clean the home of a recently passed love one, the first steps in getting things settled and this time, we are looking at getting things sorted. Once you have the home secured, the will read, and limits set it’s time to begin the possibly long process of house cleaning after death.
Remember: Be Kind to Yourself. This is an emotionally stressful time, but you will persevere, you will get through this. Ask for help if you need it. The process is physically and emotionally taxing. If you need people to help move furniture, or help to get through the grief, lean on your support system – people are there for you!
How to Start House Cleaning After a Death: Claims, Donations and More
Go Through the Home
Now that will has been read, a date set, and the family informed, it’s time to get to the actual work of house cleaning. First things first, make sure anything that has been willed has been taken care of with the beneficiary. If someone is willed a painting, get them in the home and make sure they receive the painting. Your loved one wanted them to have it, a final gift, so make sure you honor those wishes.
After the will has been executed on, it’s time to take care of the rest of the stuff. This will likely have to happen in stages.
While it might seem like an easier path, do not just get the family together at once and let them run wild through the home. Instead, take a first lap around the house doing a rough sort of each room.
Set aside the high-value objects for appraisal such as fine art, silver, jewelry, antiques. If your family member collected anything specific like coins, stamps, etc. that would be worth appraising as well.
Sentimental items like blankets, quilts, or anything else should be kept to a separate area from the valuables.
When the home has been sorted you can bring in the family. Does everyone get along? Bringing everyone in a large group so they can talk about it might work well. If two parties should find themselves both wishing to get something, they can handle it out there and keep the processing moving along (when this happens and one party got ‘first choice’ it can cause unfortunate rifts).
If, however, there are already frictions in the family, bringing in smaller groups one at a time can make everything run smoother. Start with immediate family, then move out to family and friends the deceased was the closest too. Allow them to place sticky notes on items they wish, when multiple people want the same thing you can make sure they are in contact with each other. The goal is to make sure everything is done by that date, so they’ll have to come to an agreement by then!
Donate and Remove Unwanted Items
After everyone has had their chance to claim any leftover items, if there are any pieces of furniture or items that are in good condition think about donating them! Did your loved one have a church, or community group they were active in? Did they have a favorite charity or cause? Donating to those groups can be a great way to help them and honor the memory of your loved one.
After donations and claims from family and friends you might still have some stuff lingering around the house. In those cases it’s time to rent a dumpster and haul away what’s left. This moment can feel overwhelming. Remember, these aren’t items that were wanted, they don’t hold the memories you might feel they do at that moment. Most likely, these are just pieces of old junk your loved one would have been happy to get rid of themselves.
With everything removed, donated, or claimed, you should be left with an empty residence ready for a good cleaning. Should it need serious work, call in professionals (it’s our job!). The home is ready to be put back on the market, for new family members to inhabit, or for another person in need to move in. The home is clean and the stuff is gone, but the person who passed, they live on in your heart, and the memories can never be taken away. Remember to be kind to yourself as you process in this time, seek help, attend a grief support group, or speak with a professional if you think it will help you.
We’ll see you next time on The BIOClean Team blog!