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Death and Storage: Dealing with Loss

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One of the hardest times in your life will be the death of a loved one. Regardless of whether it’s a close family member or a dear friend, it is a traumatic experience. Not only do you have to deal with the fact that this loved one is no longer with us, but oftentimes you will need to sort through their belongings. That task can be very hard and quite stressful for anyone.

We want to provide you with some helpful tips so you can sort through those personal belongings of your loved one who has passed, at their home or in their storage unit.

Dealing with Emotional Attachment.

sorting through loved ones thingsPacking up all the personal items of someone who has passed is about more than just sorting through them and placing them inside boxes. Holding onto a loved one’s possessions can be a way for you to hold on to that person a while longer, in the only way you still can. Some people just want to get rid of it all to avoid the grieving process and move on as fast as possible. Others may have feelings of guilt if you get rid of these items, like you are letting down the deceased person. So, before you get started with sorting the items, take some time and think about how it may affect you to go through them one by one. Then proceed when you are ready to handle it emotionally.

Identify Personal Possessions.

According to the Self Storage Association, almost 9 percent of U.S. households rent a storage unit, meaning your loved one may be one of them. Maybe you were given a key to their storage unit and the property manager knows you have access. If that is the case, you can simply visit the storage unit and start clearing it out when you are ready. However, if they didn’t grant you access, you should not expect the property manager to automatically grant you access to the belongings.

The property manager cannot just take your word for it that you are the right person to have access to the belongings in your loved one’s storage unit. There is no way for them to know if later in the week another family member will come along and say the same thing. You cannot expect a property manager to get involved in this personal family matter. We require legal proof of ownership or access before we can grant access to the storage unit to anyone. I’m sure you would be very upset if long lost cousin Joe showed up and cleaned everything out because we let him before you could make it here, and he was estranged from your loved one for years and had no right to their personal possessions.

dealing with estate attorneyIf your deceased love one had a will in place, the executor of the estate will be granted access to the contents of the storage unit. If no will exists, you will need to go to probate court to be granted legal permission. This court handles property and estate matters to prove who should have access to belongings in the absence of a will.

Once the legal stuff is dealt with, you can choose to keep the storage unit and simply sign a new rental agreement so you don’t have to worry about clearing it out immediately. Otherwise you can remove all the contents and vacate the storage unit.

Taking Time to Heal.

Don’t feel like you have to go through all the personal belongings of a passed loved one right away. It is OK to give yourself some time to heal first before tackling such a delicate task. By taking some time for you first, it will help prevent you from having regrets about giving away or discarding items.

Everyone is different and takes their own time to heal in these situations. There is not magic number or timeframe to follow. Your great grandma who was 105 will be easier to deal with than your mom who was just 65. Regardless, try to give yourself at least a few weeks to process the loss before making major decisions about where belongings should go or to whom.

Once you are ready to start going through the items, don’t rush it. By sorting through everything little by little in small chunks of time over several weeks or months, it will help you slowly heal and process the emotions as you make tough decisions. No one expects you to get this done in a day or a week. The act of going through these things will most likely surface memories and initiate feelings of sadness and grief. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a trusted friend or relative so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Using Self Storage.

Now that you have given yourself some time to heal, don’t push it off too long. Some people will avoid the task altogether for years to avoid the feelings of sadness and loss that are bound to surface. If you avoid doing this for too long, you can get stuck in the grief cycle and it will be difficult to move on.

If you just cannot face this task yet and you need to get everything out of the home so the estate can be closed and the property sold; move the belongings to a self storage unit as a first step. Talk to our friendly property manager and she will happily help you figure out what size self storage unit you need. Choosing self storage as a solution in this case will take the pressure off and allow you time to grieve. You can wait a few months and then slowly start digging through everything as you have time.

antique family heirloom furnitureA self storage unit can also be beneficial if there are several items you want to keep for yourself or your kids but don’t have room at your home for them. You can use a self storage unit to keep those precious family heirlooms for when your kids grow up and buy their first house. Doing so will keep them safe and secure and out of your way until that day comes.

Death of a loved one is never easy, but it’s something we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. Choosing self storage as a solution to keeping your loved one’s possessions safe until you are ready to tackle them will bring your stress level down and provide you some much needed time to cope. If you have any questions about the storage process and handling your loved one’s estate, talk to an estate attorney. And, if you are in need of a storage unit for your loved one’s belongings, you can contact us for more information, talk to our property manager or reserve or rent a storage unit online today.