KonMari Insight Blog Series.
Sorting through a deceased loved one’s belongings has to be one of the toughest jobs there is. Here are some insights I took away from my journey. Even though I learned most of these much later in the process, they made a huge impact on how I live my life now.
Never bring anything home that doesn’t spark joy. While I was sorting through all of my family’s treasures, I had thought it was smart to bring them home, so I could sort through at my leisure. This was a huge mistake. It took me 10 years to let it all go. That was 10 years of constant reminders of sadness, guilt, and inability to feel free and content in my own home.
Scan photos and keep just a few favorites. I understand that some people will feel differently, but I was so happy that I did this. Photos were sentimental and painful for me to do. Not all of the memories were happy, and there was just thousands of them to sort through. When I was finally able to select those that had the best memories, it was so freeing. When I scanned them, I made copies on a flash drive for my nephew and a friend. I also have them on my computer, and when I’m working, they joyfully pass by during my day. Now I love seeing them, and have just the good memories of my family.
Take the time you need to grieve. You’ve lost a loved one. It takes awhile to work through the feelings. If you must sort through all of those things now, to clear out a home to sell, for example, do the best you can, but remember that everything looks sentimental at this time. You can get sucked into keeping all kinds of things, that you wouldn’t if your head was clear. This would be the one and only time I would suggest using a storage locker. Especially if the only other solution is to pack it in your home.
Don’t feel guilty because you don’t love their stuff. This was a huge sticking point for me, and a large source of guilt, at the time. My family had really good taste in their collections. But it wasn’t my taste. I also have a small home and I didn’t have room. But once I brought all of that stuff home, it took over my life. I lived and breathed “their treasures.” In the process my life went on hold. I was subservient to their belongings. I wanted to find them their own perfect home and they wanted to stay right where they were. Who says that our stuff isn’t alive?
Save the hard stuff for last. You will really be tempted to bring home every little bit of sentimental things you can find. Again, you have to be in the right mindset to deal with those types of things. When you are decluttering your own home, KonMari tells you to do the sentimental things last, because they are just plain hard to do. They will suck all of the energy right out of you. So purge your inherited stuff the same way …easy to hard. Clothing, Books, Papers, Komono, then Sentimentals. Just remember that anything can be sentimental, so if a blouse makes you stop, move it to sentimentals and keep going.
Bring only the things home that truly spark joy AND that you will give an immediate living place to. This is your home. You’ve worked hard to declutter it, keeping only things that you love. Your things have a place where they live. Why would you bring in things you don’t love, don’t need and don’t make you happy? I guarantee that if those kinds o things enter your home, you won’t give them a permanent spot and they will become just so much more clutter. It affects that hard earned dynamic of joy that you’ve already cultivated in your home. It’s wonderful that your family member loved their things. But you don’t have to.
Live in the now. This one is tough. It’s so easy to get caught up in re-living our past when we go through our inherited stuff. We want to feel connected to our loved ones. That’s wonderful and natural. But we also have to come to grips with the fact that our lives are changing. While it’s healing to remember our past, it can get in the way of our going forward with our own lives. And that is the one thing that is most important, right now: Living! Our families don’t want us sitting there, stuck dwelling on them. They want you to go on and live a happy life. A joy filled life is really the best legacy you can leave.
Best wishes on your personal journey. I’d love to hear how you’ve dealt with your loved one’s things. We learn from each other.