This is a hard one. There is no right answer for this. Expect that chocolate wrapper, which can be thrown out. Also this task can stay in the too hard basket for as long as you want! A lady I know hasn’t even touch the boots by the front door and it’s been two years. While my friends grandmother went through and got rid of everything the afternoon after the funeral.
This is a delicate and heart breaking task. Everything is there because they had an attachment to it. All these clothes, toys, kitchen utensils. Everything you touch brings back memories, you think about how they will never wear their favourite shirt again, how they will never log onto their computer and how they can never put up the Lego train set.
There will be things you could never get rid of, things that are too painful to keep.
I started off small. Getting rid of underwear and socks with holes in them. Pretending that I was just doing a spring clean. Bundling them up in a black bag. (They were just rubbish, you can replace them later right?) From then I moved onto things he wouldn’t notice missing. The shorts he never wore, the ties he bought for work and then decided he didn’t need. The odd coloured ones. Ones he wouldn’t never miss. These were bundled up into a black bag to go to a clothing bin. Next, the winter gear. It was coming up to summer. He wouldn’t need it until winter. The jackets and gloves bundled up in with the shorts and odd coloured ties. Now it was a bag for storage.
From there is got more difficult to lie to myself so I gave myself a break. Went to sleep. Upon waking up at 2am I decided it was a good time to sort the rest. I got out of bed and picked up a shirt. It was a white shirt with purple squares over it. The one all business men have somewhere in one colour or another. I went to put it in the bag and I cried. Ugly crying in full force. That one shirt, not even one I liked that much pushed me too far.
From then I cried while I sorted the clothes. I put on Riley’s yellow tie and his dressing gown to give me strength and struggled through it.
There were things that I couldn’t bear to throw out. Things that I will never use but there was something stopping me. His work tools, his favourite t-shirt, his dressing gown. All of his suits. He loved those suits. A lot of the things I couldn’t keep but I didn’t want to throw out when to his sister to look after. She took his suits in case Riley’s nephew grew into them and his dressing gown to wear on those days where everything gets too much.
I sat and looked at his shoes for so long. His size 13 feet, so large we had to squish his toes a little when we closed the coffin. His walking shoes for when we went on long walks to take photos, his good shoes for work, his comfy going to the supermarket shoes. The ones he had bought a month ago. Someone would get so much wear out of them. I had to donate them to charity. But I just kept staring at them. He would never get to wear them out, never get to shine them again. Dumb little things like that really get to you. I got through his clothes and I went to bed still wearing his yellow tie and curled up with his shoes.
I tried to make a game out of going through his things. All these little dohickeys and whatsamajigs that I had no idea what that did. I made three piles. Computer related, Camera related and Motorbike related and took guesses at which pile they belonged in. I think I did pretty well.
Examples of what I kept. These are somethings that I found important to keep but in no way is it a list of things you should and shouldn’t keep.
His favourite t-shirt, my favourite tie, newspaper clippings of the accident and of times he had gotten his photo in the paper, his work tools, his important documents eg Birth certificate, death certificate, drivers licence etc. Presents that I gave him, things that he had, that especially make me think of him.
And the things I got rid of?
I started by asking his sister and her family and his parents if there was anything in particular they wanted. From there I gave them things I thought they should have. Almost all of his Lego want to his niece and nephew. Some went to my nephew and I kept some. – See if anyone that he loved would want anything in particular. Maybe they gave him a gift they want back to remind them of him etc.
Then I gifted things. I wasn’t fussed about the money as long as I knew they were going to use the things I gave them. If they used them, they would think of Riley.
Some things I did sell. The more expensive stuff that there was no reason for me to keep.
Like I said at the start there is no wrong way to sort through the belongings of the one you love and the only real advice is to do it as you feel ready. If you feel particularly strong one day and do a quarter and then leave the rest for two months then that’s fine. Just do you. No one can give you any shit for how long or short a task takes because they have zero idea what you are going through. For me I had to get it done in a timely fashion because I had to move out of the flat we shared at the end of the year due to being unable to pay rent for it by myself. I had to condense a house into a room.
And Riley? I suddenly went from having a person taking up half of my house, room etc and now? I condensed everything of Riley’s into a big Sistema container. It was difficult. It was unpleasant. And something I hope to never do. EVER AGAIN! Looking at the hole in my flat from where his desk was, was like looking at the giant hole in my heart.
But the day where you do feel like you can do it? Put on some loud, motivating music and start off small.
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”
Riley playing with a very small part of his expansive Lego collection