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Grieving while downsizing & moving (Downsizing: Part 8)

Downsizing and moving while grieving can be especially challenging. I offer three ways to ease the overwhelm.

Couple with moving boxes

Downsizing and moving while you're actively grieving can be particularly painful. You don’t have time to process, and it is harder to let go of items because they have added emotional significance.

It is difficult to make good downsizing decisions if you're grieving. When I'm working with clients in this situation, we take a little more time to be present with their loss. I don’t force them to deal with the emotions that surround their items.

Ordinarily, I would not recommend that clients get a storage unit. But when people are dealing with the loss of a loved one, having a place to temporarily put belongings can help alleviate some of the pressure of moving and downsizing.

I always stress that this is a temporary solution. We store items in a well documented way so that they – or a friend or family member – can easily find what they are looking for.

Months later, after they have had a chance to settle into their new space and grief has evolved, we revisit the storage unit. Since everything was stored in an organized way, we are able to:

First: get basic items that are truly needed to increase the functionality of the new living space. These might include kitchen items, tools, or small pieces of furniture.

Second: retrieve sentimental belongings that foster a sense of love, joy, and connection. (Learn about my approach to sentimental objects.)

Third: revisit the question of letting go of things months, rather than years later.

This process allows sorting through the storage unit to become part of the healing process.


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