Chapter 6: Your parent’s belongings

When there is conflict

The conflicts with my siblings after mom’s death were exhausting. Settling the estate and sorting through her things was complicated. There were so many unspoken expectations and strong agendas about what was going to happen with my mom’s house and all of her things.

Fighting over the estate shouldn’t be his legacy. It’s hard to be in the middle of conflict between my siblings, and it’s sad. It has complicated things for sure, making it harder for me to grieve.

The task of settling an estate and sorting through your parent’s belongings can also be challenging. Sometimes members of the family are ready to do this at different times. You may be feeling the need to begin this process before others are ready, or you may be feeling pressure from others to feel ready. Acknowledging these differences and communicating openly with each other can help reduce the risk of misunderstandings and hard feelings.

You and other family members may easily sort through who wants what, or your parent may have been very clear in this regard. However, in most families, conflicts or hurt feelings can arise when there are misunderstandings, or when more than one person would like a particular item. We have all heard stories of families becoming estranged over belongings and property.


What may help

Open communication and agreeing on a process for decision-making before beginning can go a long way in helping to reduce the risk of long-term hard feelings.

What can feel important in the moment can quickly lose its appeal if a relationship is shattered over it. Try to keep communication respectful, take a break if things become heated, and step back to gain perspective.