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Cleaning out the Closet

Cleaning out the Closet

Courtesy of Janet Clarke from A Helping Hand Estate Organizing Service.

Cleaning out your late spouse’s belongings and deciding what to do with them can be a difficult, emotional experience. It can also bring up the feeling of losing your spouse all over again. The grief process differs for everyone. Some people find it easier to deal with this task right away and some people find it easier to leave it for awhile. But dealing with personal possessions, clothing etc is a necessity in due time. If you are not under a deadline for completion take your time.

Start by sorting the items into three piles:

    • Items to keep
    • Items to give away
    • Items that you are not sure what to do with or can not deal with at the present time.

The items to keep are usually the items that have personal and sentimental meaning to them. They might be kept by you, family members or friends. This enables the memories of the person to continue on.

The pile to give away includes items to sell at an estate sale, consignment store or to give to people who need them. If the person who has passed away had a favorite charity or organization, then honor their memory by giving to that charity if appropriate.

The items that you are unsure what to do with can be boxed up again and dealt with later. If you are under a time restriction or have no place to store it, then go back to it every day and go through it again until it is completed. If you have a place for storing them, then put them away and go through them at a later time.

For some people, having a family member or a friend available to help makes the job a lot easier. It allows you the opportunity to share the memories of the items with them. Another option is to hire a Professional Organizer to help with the task.


  1. Jennifer Black  June 7, 2011

    Great article Janet. Very simply written and straighforward. I love that you understand how important it is not to force decisions. If I’m not sure what to do with something in the moment, put it in the “deal with later” pile, and I can take my time in making decisions about things that may be important to me.


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