Decluttering after the loss of a loved one.
In May 2017 widower Tony decided it was time to tackle the major job of decluttering his extensive period home that he has lived in for 40 years and contained 3 generations of family clutter. Sadly, his wife Jennifer, passed away in 2014. Tony is a very recently retired doctor and local jazz musician now looking towards the next phase in his life.
Read on to find out more how he has taken on this challenging task, bumps along the road and the surprising rewards!
What made you get in touch with me?
I had been thinking about doing a partial house clearance because there are 3 generations of all sorts of stuff here. Your leaflet came through the door around about the same time and it was just great timing.
Once you had decided to go ahead and start decluttering how did you feel?
I was looking forward to getting going. I knew more or less what I wanted to do. I suppose you gave me both the courage to do it and the motivation, as well as supporting me in being ruthless.
What have you learnt along the way?
We have discovered a lot of paperwork, not only mine but previous generations too. In working through this I have learnt that I don’t need to keep it all. There are some very personal things that I have kept. In fact, I may have to do more “refining” in the future.
I’ve also found myself more organised using your systems. The way you do it can be applied to absolutely anything. So far we’ve covered clothes, antiques, crockery, artwork, furniture and lots of bits and bobs but I can see the process can be used on anything from toiletries to digital files.
Are there any downsides?
We have set aside boxes of letters and photos that I still need to go through and I’m not really looking forward to working on those. Fortunately, I have an underlying motivation that I do want to move house eventually and therefore I have to reduce the amount of stuff I have so that my executors won’t be left with the task.
What is it like to deal with Jennifer’s things?
At the start I was very unsure as to how I would feel or deal with her clothes and personal things but I knew it was a job that had to be done. I have kept some very important, sentimental pieces and have no regrets of anything that I have moved on. (So far anyway! Laughing)
What would you say to anyone who has lost a partner and is struggling to deal with either their items or the memories tied up in those things?
Well, that is a lot of work for most people. I think for me the timing may have helped. It’s now been 4 years since Jennifer died and so perhaps it is a little easier to make decisions now. It was also helpful that the destination of some of the household pieces had been specified in the will. I didn’t have to make all the decisions.
I think that you just have to take this job, grab it by the horns and move forward. Getting started is key. Once you get moving I have found it really useful having you to work out what to do with everything and keep me on track. You are on the ruthless side of the equation!
What have you enjoyed most?
Surprisingly, this has been good fun. I haven’t been in the best of health at times and we have worked around that. I do look forward to our sessions. Some people have suggested that I’m doing too much but I don’t find that at all – I’m really happy with the pace. You do push me to get to our agreed end point. Your enthusiasm, energy and passion is very good.
“A huge thank you to Tony for agreeing to take part in this chat and for it to appear on-line. I am sure that this will inspire and help others in similar circumstances.
As a declutterer and organiser I help clients both virtually and on an in-home basis - do get in touch if you would like a chat about how we could work together."