Wardrobe boxes and clothes to clean out closet.

One of the many tasks that have to be taken care of when a loved one dies is to go through his or her possessions and decide what to do with them. This can be very emotional especially when you don’t have much time to get it done because the home needs to be vacated to sell or rent. However, even if you don’t have to rush the process, cleaning out your loved one’s closet and parting with personal items is bound to trigger your grief.

A recent article I read on Why Can’t I Get Rid of My Mom’s Clothes? is a good reminder that there are no rules or deadlines when it comes to dealing with grief. The author of the piece admits she has kept some of her mom’s clothes for 5 years. Some things she donated to charity early on but she couldn’t part with the items that she felt embodied her mom’s personal style. Even though she knew her mom wouldn’t want her to hold on to “useless clutter,” she still kept bags of clothing in the trunk of her car in case she got up the courage to donate them.

My wife and I have dealt with this issue as have many of our friends and family. What we’ve learned is that there are creative options for keeping some of your loved one’s clothing and creating something special from it. Pinterest has a wide array of ideas for turning clothing into quilts, stuffed animals, pillows, ornaments, and other items. My wife made a quilt to honor our niece. The first one made from our niece’s clothing was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy but she made another one inspired by our niece with the colors, designs, and images she liked.

An internet search can provide many other ideas. Recently, we read about a non-profit that helps finish knitting, crocheting, quilting, and sewing projects that were started but not finished by a deceased loved one.

My wife was a bereavement facilitator running support groups for children. What she learned and shared with others is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Getting support to help you deal with your feelings is tremendously helpful but you are entitled to your emotions and to work through them on your timetable.