10 Tips for Cleaning out a House after a Death

Parting with your loved ones possessions and cleaning out their house is one of the hardest things to face after a death. We have put together 10 tips below to help you face this daunting task.  

During a bereavement sorting and moving the loved one's belongings is one of the saddest processes after the loss of a loved one.  It can be weeks or months before the grieving can face doing it.

Many parents who have lost children keep the child’s room exactly as it was. They derive comfort from being in the child’s room, feeling close to them there. This is often where many of the memories remain. Hopefully they will get the strength to move on and share their child's precious things with friends and charities.

This is a good time to get help from a sympathetic friend or family member but It can often be distressing for other family members to to cope with too.

It is a daunting task and you feel as if you are throwing out part of your loved one’s lifetime. However it is all part of the grieving process and the journey to acceptance.

dog on beach

Here are 10 helpful tips to help you cope with sorting your loved one's things:

  1. Don't be surprised if you get upset.  Many people take months before they can face this task. 
  2. Don't be afraid to go down memory lane as there will be lots of happy memories too, as you remember where you bought that shirt on holiday or when she wore that dress at a wedding.
  3. Give family and friends gifts of your loved ones treasures. Something to remember them by. 
  4. Get a supportive friend to help you.
  5. Decide what is going to your loved one's favourite charity shop. This eases the trauma as you know they would have wanted this.
  6. If you do get too upset leave the job, go for a walk, or out to lunch. 
  7. Do the task over a few sessions. It doesn't have to be done in a rush unless a house move is imminent. It's best to take several days or weeks to finally complete the job. Some people have many possessions so it can be a long job.  Once started it does become easier.
  8. You could get a family member to do it for you, but you might regret it.  You probably want to do this for your loved one. You may know that a watch was to go to a grandson, a necklace to a niece.
  9. If you have a few close relatives, they may want to help and choose items they would like for themselves or grandchildren.  Many hands make light work.  You can do this.
  10. Don't throw away things because you can't bear to look at them now.  You might regret it later when you wish that you had kept some special keepsakes.  

Whatever you do, don't rush it if you don't need to.  Don't force the issue if you are not ready.  You will know when it is the right time for you.  Read more pages on this site about 'Dealing with Grief' and you will gradually come to terms with what you need to do.  

Looking after the pets

This can be one of the most heart wrenching parts of cleaning out a house after a death. 

If there is a pet which has nowhere to go - do try and find a sympathetic relative or friend to take in the animal.  Your loved one would have wanted to know that their beloved companion was being well cared for.  If you really can't find anyone to re-home the animal, then ask for help from the RSPCA or try and find a local group that re-homes pets.  Avoid the local dog pound if you can, as they are likely to have to put down the animal if it isn't re-homed within a certain period of time.  

dog footprints in the sand

Recommended Read: 

Related Pages: 

Should we move house after bereavement? 

10 Best Ways to Deal with Grief

Our Recommendations for Best Books on Grief 

> > Cleaning Out a House After Death


Get Private and Confidential Help in the Privacy of Your Own Home

Do you feel alone and sad with no support and no idea how to move forward?  It can be tough when you are stuck in grief to find the motivation to get the most out of your precious life. 

Online counseling can help by giving you that support so you don't feel so alone. You can have someone to talk to anytime you like, a kind and understanding person who will help you to find meaning in life again, to treasure the memories of your loved one without being overwhelmed and to enjoy your activities, family and friends again.

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Hypnosis for Grief and Loss - 10 Ways It Can Help You

Try a gentle hypnotherapy track to relax the mind. Learn how self-hypnosis can help you cope with grief at any time of the day or night.  

Read more about it here. 


Seeds of Life Memory Tree - Oak Tree Kit


Make sure there is plenty of space to plant this majestic oak tree.  They can grow to 70 feet tall.  But what a memorial it would be for a loved one. 

One of the most popular trees of all time, they will grow for hundreds of years making a beautiful living monument to the deceased. 




Heart Shaped Sterling Silver Pendant for Cremation Ashes, Engraved Forever Loved

Memorial Pendant for Cremation Ashes

Keep the ashes of your loved one close to your heart with this sterling silver engraved pendant.  

Available here from Etsy and ships worldwide.  


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