This is a really difficult process to start and people normally find it an emotional time. Some have ‘guilty’ feelings about what they are doing. However, it really is a necessary step to take to help you move forward. Don’t let anyone tell you when to start. It’s your choice and you will just know when it’s the right time. It helps if you start with disposing of items that you can’t remember being worn or maybe really old and worn out. These won’t give you such an ‘emotional hit’ because you simply can’t remember them being worn. Clothing and personal items (e.g. a set of golf clubs) are always welcomed at charity shops. By giving you are helping others, particularly if the charity is one linked to your loved one’s illness.
As you move forward (and this is often the case with widows/widowers) you may be purchasing new clothes – close friends might be trying to persuade you to go out and socialise. Part of this process is often a trip to the shops for some new clothes, and then more storage may then be required. This logically helps with the next part of disposing of your loved one’s clothes because you need the room in the wardrobe, or drawers. One client shared with us that he dealt with much of his wife’s clothes by putting them in storage bags in the loft. He not only gained the space, but he was able to take items to a charity shop when he was feeling emotionally stronger.
It’s the ‘step by step’ approach which makes it just that bit less painful. Maybe start with just half a wardrobe, or a few drawers. The main thing is that you have started and are moving forward. Adopting this approach can work when a garage, or a shed, or a sewing room is being changed.
In summary, the reality is you’ll probably keep a number of pieces of clothing and artefacts – and why shouldn’t you? It’s the fact you have ‘dealt with’ many items which helps you come to terms with your emotions and grief.