Sorting/putting a loved one's things out?

Hey all,
This is not so much asking for help, as starting a conversation about something. I think people hold different positions, and that’s okay…
In the almost two years since I was widowed, a lot of talk goes on about needing to sort through his things/put them out to St. Vincent De Paul etc. I’ve heard horror stories about the families of widows taking it upon themselves to put hubby’s things out, while the widow was at the morgue! Most articles about doing it suggest that “when” is completely up to you, but they still seem to suggest that there’s a time it must be done in order to “let go.” I disagree - first; my healing is not dependent on "
letting go" of my husband. Accommodating the fact that he’s dead, yes, but I will never let go of our relationship.
Articles will also suggest some of the “linking items” we keep are unhealthy because they are not useful - i.e. shoes and toothbrushes. But I defy anybody to call what somebody else needs to keep, useless. Maybe that toothbrush still has his DNA on it. And one of my dear widowed friends has kept a pair of hubby’s shoes by the back door for the last seven years. If it’s a comfort, keep it.
I did a massive cleanup last year, with lots of paperwork etc. I’m making a patchwork quilt out of Ken’s clothes; I’ve made cushions for family members and given them some teeshirts and jumpers, but anything else, I decided to keep. His clothes are in a nice big bag in the bottom of the wardrobe, his coats neatly folded on a top shelf, and his best suit still hangs. I like the symbolism of that. His clothes are still here, just in different form, just like him. His dressing-gown still hangs on the bedroom door, his hats are still hung up next to mine. and his cologne is on the dressing-table. Am I expecting Ken to come back and wear those clothes or use any of the other kept items? No - I am not in denial of a dreadful event that hit me afresh every time I woke up. But these things are an important link to him for me, so they’re going nowhere, and I don’t consider that to be anybody else’s business. I may always keep them, and I know of people who kept their loved ones clothes hanging and folded in drawers until the end of their own lives. I also have a problem when people suggest that keeping a beloved child’s room just as it was, is necessarily “unhealthy.” Maybe that’s a vital point of connection for the parents. In other cultures, it’s actually expected, and healthy, to have shrines to our dead.
Some people, on the other hand, do want to pack everything up ASAP, and if that’s what’s right for them, so be it. I do feel sad when I’ve encountered people who felt pressured to do it too soon, and now regret it. When we sort/put out stuff, or IF we do it is completely up to us, and I don’t believe we owe anybody any justification either way. It’s important to do what feels right and, where it hurts nobody else, to hell with judgment.
Louise xo

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Hi I lost my partner in May I waited a couple of months but I got my mum,sister and older son to sort out his clothes I kept a couple of tops my sister and my mum took away some bags for charity I got my son to put his clothes that were done into the bin as I couldn’t even do that some people said to me to sort out his clothes as soon as possible some said in my own time which i did but as you said everyone
is different my mum kept my dad’s toothbrush it’s nobody else’s business what we do I get angry when people say do this and do that when there not in my position everyone deals with bereavement differently James was only 48 when he died of a sudden heart attack and people have said the wrong things to me so do what’s right for you.

Take care
Christine x

Hello Mrs Plummer,
I think you are absolutely right. I have sent of my husband’s clothes to the charity shop, stuff he rarely wore or that came back from the hospital or that he had never worn. But things that he wore regularly, and that I identify as being his, I have kept and probably will do for a long time. I did feel put under pressure by some family members to sort out and get rid of his things quite soon after his death, but I resisted and am glad that I did. I am comfortable and comforted by having his favourite things around me. I do not hold with the ethos of their being a trigger point to move on, believing that by taking life one day at a time and as it comes, the grieving process will gently and naturally draw to a close. Tulabelle x

Hi. I agree with all that’s been said in this conversation. It’s been just over 15 months since I lost my darling husband. I have taken some of his clothes to the clothes bank. However, I have kept a lot back - some in a suitcase and some hanging in the wardrobe. His toothbrush still rests in the holder where he put it. His cans of deodorant still here too. I will probably never get rid of these things. Recently I threw out his box of shredded wheat, it was well out of date. But now I can’t get it off my mind - I wish I hadn’t thrown it away. David ate shredded wheat for breakfast every single day and had done ever since I’d known him. I’m thinking of buying a new box just for it to sit in the cupboard…xx

Hi im a widower im 59 wife darling wife and soulmate Denise passed (04032016) it was her 41st birthday .I totally agree everybody deals with the loss of a loved one differently .I sleep downstairs i cannot and wont force the issue, my so called caring neighbours have tried to encourage me to do this .Nobody needs Denises clothes in my opinion ,there still in her wardrobe .I cant look at them let alone put them in bin liners .I have all her rings in a box ,i was going to get a chain to hang them round my neck,but i cant even open the box now im too frightened to do this .Al the best Colin

Hi Colin, you are quite right in not forcing the issue. Go at your own pace, it’s veru very okay regardless of what others think. I guess I wonder Colin what you fear in opening Denise’s jewellery box? Is it maybe feeling so broken that you’re scared you’ll never come back? When you do open it, if you do, I hope you will have plenty of support. I am so sorry about the loss of your darling.


Hey Kate, I still have Ken’s half-sued bottle of Worcestershire sauce. It gets put out every time there’s an occasion, and a place is set for him at the table. It’s about 2 and a half years old, and it’s going nowhere until I see mould in it. I think it’s a lovely idea to get a new box of David’s favourite cereal xo

Thank you Mrs Plummer, for your understanding. Your comments brought both a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. Next time I go shopping I’ll get those shredded wheat. Xx

It’s “Louise” to people as lovely as you, Kate. I like popping something Ken liked into the trolley now and then - shopping was so dreadful for the first little while - I cried openly. I found it a comfort to put his favourite lollies in, even if I ate them for him. Whatever helps.


Louise xo

You’ve just made me smile once more Louise…thank you xx

Margaret loved chocolate and I take a bar with me to work on night shift.
It’s like having her beside me. The things we do.
Take care

Bless you William, that’s so sweet. I bet you were a lovely husband. I think you’re Margaret was a very lucky lady. You carry on doing whatever brings you comfort - I know I will. Xxx

Hey Louise, I got a new box of Shredded Wheat - put them in my food cupboard, next to my bran flakes and that’s where they’re going to stay. It’s made me feel better. Thanks for your support and everyone else on this forum. Sending love and hugs for the weekend. Xx

My wife keeps insisting that I get rid of lots of my dad’s things unsure what to tell her x

After just 8 weeks I can’t begin to think about disposing of my wife’s things. It’s been a major effort just to move them into one room. It was really difficult to move her various creams and potions from the bathroom. As I have a large house I don’t need many of the rooms and so things will remain there until either I want to do it or my daughters want to. On the other hand I think it would be nice for the Sue Ryder shop in town to be able to raise more money to help others like they helped my wife, and I’m confident that is what she would want. What a dilemma. I’ve already sorted a lot of my things to go there.

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Please don’t do this until you feel ready. You! This may be tomorrow, next week, next month or never. Only you will know. I don’t know how long it is since you lost your dad but I lost my wonderful husband almost 16 months ago and I still haven’t got rid of his things and the way I’m feeling I probably never will. I’ve moved them around a bit and given certain clothes away to family but so much is still here. I even got so far as putting quite a bit in a suitcase ready to go to charity but then I couldn’t do it and so the case is still sitting on the landing. To be honest, looking at his things gives me some comfort. As I said in an earlier post, I did throw his Shredded Wheat away recently but I couldn’t get it off my mind so I replaced with a new box yesterday. When I reached for my bran flakes this morning it seemed so right to see the 2 boxes side by side…
With regards to your wife and with respect, she can’t possibly understand so don’t be too hard on her. Try to explain that you’re not ready. If people knew the half of what goes on in my house since losing my man, they would probably call the men in white coats to come and take me away! It’s only my fellow sufferers on this site that truly understand. There are no rights and no wrongs in grieving. Be true to yourself. I’m sending love to you and everyone on this forum. Xxxc

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I agree with Kate, Shana276, and I think that if you put your dad’s things out because you feel forced to do so, you may resent your wife xo

Thank you Kate and Mrs Plummer my love goes out to you guys.
As for me I am moving from England up to North Scotland to be closer to my wife’s family, if it’s the best thing I hope it is but we will have to see xx

It’s so good to read these posts. My husband died 2 months ago and I’ve not moved any of his things. All his clothes are still hanging in the wardrobe and his shoes lined up at the bottom. I’ve not even moved anything out of the bathroom cabinet. I was beginning to feel a bit abnormal, I had always assumed people started sorting and clearing almost immediately after the funeral. I just couldn’t bear getting rid of anything of his yet, I miss him so much that his things give me just a little bit of comfort. Love to everyone out there missing their loved ones xx

Hi Louise
I agree with your post about your loved ones belongings.
My Mum passed away over 2 years ago and I have kept many of her
things including her clothes, shoes, her books, music collection,
I’m looking after Mum’s plants and doing the things Mum would do
as it helps me in my daily life.
So many people will judge, like relatives, but I’ll do what feels
right for me.

Best wishes