Disposing of Loved Ones' Belongings


Going through our deceased loved ones' belongings and disposing of clothing and personal items which we cannot use, can be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish after a death. I thought that it may be helpful to some who are having a difficult time with it, for us to share what we did.

I know from my personal experience, this has been the hardest thing for me to do. After 8 years, Christin's room has been as it was left. My husband and I haven't needed her room, so I had no reason to get rid of any particular items. I have even kept the trash that she had in her trash can.

When she first left, I gave a few things away to special friends, but not much. We have one son and two grandsons, but we are happily expecting a granddaughter in October.

I now have a reason to make Christin's room into a nursery.

I have slowly been going through Christin's clothes and video taping each item and if it was something significant to a certain event, I will tell about the item. For me, it is a way to continue holding on to the item and the memory, without having the item take up space. I have also done this with my mom's things. I am giving the items to charity when they leave my home. The things which are old and probably not usable anymore, are burned in my backyard. To me, this is also a way to keep them, and to me, it's a respectable way to dispose of them rather than dumping them in the trash. I have a little special ritual with them. I have a very long way to go with Christin's things, but I'm proud of myself that I am finally starting. With some of the very nice pieces of clothing, I am comtemplating bringing them to a consignment shop. Not sure yet.

I plan to make a beautiful nursery and then our little granddaughter will be able to grow older into our Christin's room when she stays with us. That will also be a comfort. I know that would please Christin.

I would love to hear how the rest of you managed this difficult, but necessary task. I also hope that my way may help others.


Here is a link that might be useful: Christin Cosby Memorial Web Site

Comments (14)
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((Lulie)) My heart always aches for you when I read the loss you have suffered. I am sure Christin will be smiling down upon that new life that will sleep and play in the room that was once hers.

I am still trying to clean out my Mothers dresser drawers and she passed away in 2002. Every time I open a drawer I can smell the fabric softner that I used on her nightgowns, clothes and bedding. I just close it back up again. It is just those clothes in the drawers and other personal items that I have a problem dealing with. Everything else I already donated to charity. I guess if it wasn't for that smell of Tropical Downey it wouldn't be so hard.

My friend moved away and before she did she gave me a single bed with box spring and mattress and a tall chest of drawers and a large vanity with mirror and stool and an end table. This furniture is taking up space in my living room right now because I have been trying to clean out the room that holds all my Mom's stuff. I had a yard sale last week and I put her hardly used tiltback wheelchair out for sale thinking someone who visits a loved one at the nursing home down the street might know a person who needs one. I did offer to lend it to one person if I didn't sell it.

I can't bring myself to throw things in the garbage either and wish we were allowed to have open fires because I think that is a great idea to burn things. I really need to get that room emptied because I can't stand looking at all this furniture that surrounds me in my living room. I need that bedroom set up again so my sister can come on overnight visits. I am making progress but it is hard. Mom made quite a few things while attending day away at the Alzheimer Society over the years and I don't want to throw them out either even though to anyone else they might be junk so I just might box everything up to deal with another time. Last week going through things for the yard sale I came across the brush I used to comb my Mother's hair with. After my Mom died I gave her a last sponge bath and combed her hair up into the ponytail on top of her head like I did every day. My friends who were the undertakers from the funeral home said that is what they noticed about my Mom was her cute hairdo and fresh night clothes. So seeing that brush and her hair again brought back that horrible night she died in my arms and how much I really miss her.

Tomorrow I am going to start again in that room. I really need to move on. If it wasn't for that smell of fabric softener it would be a lot easier.


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I think it is easier (not easy!) to deal with a parent's things than your child's things, Lulie. But you have a wonderful reason to get Christin's room fixed as a nursery. Remember, your grandchild and Christin are blood relatives, so in a way part of Christin will be in the room. I commend you for the sensible yet meaningful way you are dealing with things. Here's a pat on the back...pat pat.

I have a suitcase and a box of my mother's things in the garage. Special things I just cannot get rid of. It seems so useless to save all this because when I'm gone, no one will care about it. I've gradually gotten rid of things over the past three years. I know she would not want me to be burdened with lots of her things since we have limited space. After she died, the smell of her clothing brought me to tears, but eventually the smell went away. Not sure if it was Tropical Downey or just MOM.

Take care, Lulie.

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We have so very few of Dave's and Millie's things. He had lived out of state 10 years and even though my daughter-in-law knew that I wanted some of his things, she never gave us any. I, unfortunately, had given him gobs of family pictures, things from college, things he had when growing up, because I wanted them to be part of his life. We never saw any of them again. His MIL cleaned out his office; we don't know what happened to any of this stuff or any of his little girl's things. Knowing that we received nothing, his secretary happened upon some things from his desk at work when their offices were remodeled and send them to us. There were some photos, and just a few minor other things, but how blessed we felt to receive those 2 packages. We moved a couple of years ago, and I found some stuff from college in his old room, and amazingly, his album of sports pictures and articles from the time he started baseball at age 5 through high school. I had made it for him (and one for each of my other boys, too), and I really thought I'd sent it to him years before. I have a few toys Millie played with at our house and books we read to her, although most things I bought I sent home with her after she visited. The one keepsake I have is her charm bracelet. I have 2 bracelets myself, and I started one for her. She wore it at our house and I never gave it to her to take home because I knew her mother would throw it away; she threw away most things we gave Millie. Anyway, it has charms representing Florida, Michigan and Ohio, a baseball charm, one that says "Daddy's Girl" (she truly was), the witch from Wizard of Oz, which she loved, and the St. Charles street car, which she and her grandpa and I rode to the New Orleans Zoo the last visit we had with her. I'm so glad I kept it. Sometimes we wish we had had the burden of going through their things; we were left with so little but photos and memories, and some of those, sadly, are fading.

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Lulie_Wayne, I love your idea of videotaping items with a commentary before giving them away. They could even be photographed with written notes if one didn't have a camcorder.

It was tough to go through everything when my stepsister died, but there were four of us working together and we managed somehow. We saved some things her two girls might want and were glad to give them back when they became adults.

Sudie, some people are way too upset to do this task thoughtfully and start throwing everything away, even family photos and mementos, just to finish faster. That's why it can be better to have several people work on it together.

My cousins have asked my mom and me to travel to their parents home this summer and help them go through things now before the house is sold. (My aunt and uncle are no longer 100% sound of mind.)

We plan to scan family photos and save them onto the computer so they won't be lost and can be easily shared with the extended family.

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Lulie, It is a wonderful idea of taping things...my heart goes out to you...it is wonderful news that you will have a grandaughter to be in Christin's room....she knows and will always be with you as you wait for your "blessing".
It will soon be a year...and we have not gone thur Mom's things....my sister and I waited for Dad to tell us it was time. We are moving...Dad will go with us...he said it is time to go thur things....Mom would want someone to have her clothes....for the last year she wore gowns and housecoats....my niece knows of a lady that lost everything in a fire..so we will give her some of mothers things. Also the nursing home will take for those that do not have much. It will so hard to go thur Mom's treasures....my sister and I are going to get 6 boxes....for her 6 grandaughters and each will get some of her treasures....Mom loved to wear scarves and pins...they each want one of each....Mom knew that something was happening with her...she had gone thur things and had marked who have given them to her....so we will be giving them back. After Mom died I would go to her closet and I would just want to smell her clothes....that smell is gone. It will be hard but the one thing that will help...is I know Mom would want others to enjoy her treasures. God Bless each of you. Nora

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Laura Abbott

Lulie - I can't imagine how hard this must be.

One thought that comes to mind, if there are several pieces of clothing (pajamas, blouse, jeans, etc.) that Christin loved or wore often, make a keepsake quilt out of them for your new granddaughter. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or big, just simple squares sewn together. It keeps Christin close and stories can be told about pieces in the quilt. I know it may be hard to cut a piece of clothing, but it would be a good reason.

Wishing you strength during this time and happiness during the upcoming addition to your family.


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Hello Lu, Thats a big step!You are a big insperation to me and im sure many others.I have not been able to go thru leonards clothes yet and next month is bringing up a year can you believe that.I even went out and got new furniture for my clothes because I couldnt go into our closet with out crying. That is a very hard thing to do.I wear his necklace and ring everyday.My nieces and nephews want a shirt or something of his but I cant seem to let them go.Im very proud of you.I think that is a wonderful reason to redue christin's room. I think laura has a wonderful idea about the blanket you can even put a few pictures in it.That way she will always know about her aunt christin and have a piece of her.Good luck with everything.

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My son lived in a trailer in my back yard. When he left, I took his dishes and made a mosaic table top with them. I took his favorite shirt and had it framed along with photos of him, wearing the shirt. I took some pieces of his furniture (little stands,etc) and repainted them and stenciled moons and stars on them (which he liked). I encorporated his things into my house. I use his microwave, and some of his dishes and silverware. I enjoy eating from his plates and drinking my coffee from his mugs. I took some of his T-shirts and sewed the sleeves and bottoms shut, then stuffed them and made pillows. I still have all his clothes and personal things in totes in my bedroom. I think I'm going to make quilts from his clothes. These are just some of the things I've done with my son's belongings.


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My Mum was an artist, painter, and I have over 200 of her paintings, in my house. At the time of her death, I was a bit annoyed that I had all the paintings and my brother and sister, did not take many at all.

But...you know....5 years down the track, I am the one who is so blessed, cause everyday I have these beautiful paintings to look at. The memories they invoke, as I was a child growing up as I used to sit in her studio and watch her paint. I remember each painting, when she painted it and what she was trying to acheive in the painting.

I realise now, that at the time of my youth, I did not put much value at all on what she did. She was just Mum, and she did paintings.

I know now, what passion she had for her art, that passion is coming into my life, as a 45 year old woman. I know what she felt, when she painted.

She also had 50 or so, art books, that are all on my shelves, the other day I found book marks in one, that she had left there, I spent ages looking at the pictures, she had marked with the bookmarks, trying to see what she would have seen.

I gain a tremendous amount of comfort from having my Mum's paintings, and art books, near me in my house, it is such a wonderful way to leave something of YOU behind in the world when you depart the physical world.

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I lost my only child when she was 14 years old...it has now been 5 years. I had a very dear friend of mine offer to "hold" her clothes at her house. One day she presented me with the most beautiful queen sized quilt...made from all of my daughter's clothing! I cannot express to you enough how priceless and meaningful and comforting that quilt is to me now!

I still have a lot of her other things that I have temporarily stored in the attic. I am in the process of making a "hope chest" to store them in. I also want to make a scrapbook but the timing isn't right just yet.

Huge hugs to all of you who are hurting!

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It is now just over 4 years I lost my son. He was to be 30 in the year he died. He had a motorbike accident. My son lived at home with my husband and myself. My daughter suggests it's time to throw away his clothes. I have kept them in boxes in a spare room. I cannot go near them without my heart sinking and my mind racing back. The week-end just pâssed my daughter sorted them out into two piles. One to throw away, another to give to a charity shop.

She says we need to do it - she needs to do it - and I'm not sure. The boxes are like a devil in the corner -reducing me to tears at the mere thought of opening them.

What to do? I don't know if photographing them will help - or burning the unwanted ones in my garden - help?

Thank you


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I'm so sorry.

When they have become "like a devil in the corner, I do think it's time to do *something*.

They've become more than a pile of old clothes, left behind by someone who's not coming back for them; they've become a focus for your grief, & your son wouldn't want his things to make your grief worse.

Maybe you could photograph them (or not, depending on how painful it turns out to be), & leave the house while your daughter sorts them & takes them away.

Again, I'm so sorry, & I wish you the best.

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Thank you for taking the time to reply to me sylviatexas1

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You're most welcome;

take care of yourself.

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