One of the many difficult tasks in the grieving process is knowing when and how to dispose of the clothing and personal objects of a deceased loved one. The rule of thumb is that this should not be undertaken until the grieving person is ready to do so. Of course, circumstances may dictate that this be done immediately.
If at all possible, the process of sorting, designating, and donating should not be undertaken alone by the griever. Dealing with clothing and personal objects of the deceased, some of which are precious and bespeak the person’s life pursuits and achievements, can be very difficult to do. However, disposing of medical equipment and supplies is the first undertaking and requires decisions that are less emotionally draining. Having caring others to assist with the sorting and disposal of the more personal items is often quite necessary. The grieving person must select well who it is that will do the assisting and must make quite clear who is the ultimate decision-maker.
Having family members or friends come in and sweep away every item, some of which hold precious memories of the deceased, is not the wisest decision. With this speedy process the grieving person can have memories of the past, packed with many special experiences, taken away prematurely. On days when the grieving person is particularly sad and really missing the deceased person having a piece of clothing or an object to look at or hold can be quite comforting to the grieving heart. When this happens memories of past shared experiences can emerge, the deceased can feel closer, and feelings of joy can resonate within the soul.
In sorting objects that are memory-packed, but no longer needed, it is helpful to consider who among the relatives, friends, and acquaintances of the deceased could utilize, as well as treasure, any items offered for their personal use. This would certainly delight the deceased person, as well as the recipients. It becomes evident, however, that some things are destined for the dumpster or for some charity. Choosing carefully which charity will benefit from the donation and use the contents well is always a consideration. It is evident that there are many needy recipients in our society.
There is one more important last point that bears mention. Among all of the things that are being handled and processed by the grieving person there are some items that hold special value, as well as special memories. These need to be kept for as long as desired. In time, some will be eliminated or given away, but there will always be some that are kept until the last days that the grieving person spends on this earth. And so it should be!