Posted on January 6, 2014 · Posted in Blog

It’s that time of year when people are inspired to make new years resolutions with the intention of improving their life and well being.

Usually losing weight and going to the gym are on the top of the list, followed by enjoying life more, save more, quitting smoking, spending more time with family and spending less, to name a few.

Some people are caught up in the moment and have every intention of fulfilling what they set out to accomplish. Others vow never to make resolutions and just make a To Do list for the year and scratch off the things they accomplish, not worrying about what does not get done. Whatever your style, there is no hard and fast rule for those who have lost a loved one to follow of when to clean out their closets.

If you lost a loved one, you may have friends urging you to clean out the closets and get rid of his or her things. After all, why are you letting these things clutter your space, it is not like you are using them.
If your loved one passed a few months ago, your friends may not be as insistent, but if your loss occurred a year or more ago, they may not understand why you are not letting go and giving away all of that stuff.

It was about a year after my husband passed that a distant friend asked me what I had done with his things. I told her nothing, they were still in the closet. Her response, well you know what they say; “you should not keep things for more than a year.” I asked her “who are they”? She did not respond, nor had she experienced the loss of a spouse.

A friend of mine took several years to clean out her mother’s closet. Every few months she gave things to people she knew whom she thought would take care of them. She also took some things to Good Will in another town.

An acquaintance who lost her spouse took seven years to give away all her husband’s clothes and stuff. She would make over an hour trip to drop off his things at a VA because she did not want to run into someone in her town wearing his clothes.

As for myself, I never had to make the decision of when to give my husbands things away. I received a promotion and had to move out of state. I packed up everything, met with the kids, let them take what they wanted, and the rest was given to charity. I kept a few keep sakes and my husband’s sweatshirts and white tube sox, which I wore during cold winter nights.

If you have been trying to figure out what an appropriate time frame is for you to give his or her things away, know that there is no right or wrong answer. The time is right when you say so. The time is right when you no longer break down at the thought of giving his or her things away. The time is right when you no longer feel an emotional attachment to them.

Make it your New Years Resolution to enjoy the memories you have when you hold the watch that you gave him for your anniversary, or you hold the sweater that she always wore on your Sunday walks.

If you are ready to clean out the closets but are not strong enough to do it on your own ask a friend to support you during this time. This is your journey through grief; do not allow others to pressure you into giving things away before you are ready to do so.

By Diane Pratt, owner of Phoenx4LifeCoaching