Chapter 6: Your parent’s belongings


When our dad died, I didn’t care about what was left. That’s not how I will remember him.

When mom died, I found it too overwhelming to go through her things. I live overseas, so it was impossible for me to take anything big. My brother didn’t want anything, so we had to donate everything. When it was picked up, I fell apart. Looking back, I’m at peace knowing someone else is enjoying the things that were so precious to her.

Although it is true that “things are just things,” sorting through belongings can bring up powerful memories and emotions. Some things might make you laugh or smile; others may surprise you as you discover something about them you did not previously know. Other things may bring tears. This is understandable. Click on the arrows to explore these feelings.

What may help

As you think about what to keep, ask yourself if you will need to let go of some of your own things to make room for theirs.

Consider whether you will you be storing boxes or items in your home. Where and for how long? Will you need to rent a storage locker? What will that cost? If you are storing items, it can be helpful to have some idea of a timeline for tackling this again.

Consider what the potential financial, physical, and emotional toll on you will be if you are packing, unpacking, and repacking and possibly shuttling things from basement to attic to shed to garage, etc.

If you can’t/don’t want to take all your parent’s belongings but you are finding it hard to let go of things, consider taking only a few of your parent’s favourite things – like a teacup (or two) rather than the whole collection.