Unless you have a loved one who was exceptionally organized, often times the surviving family members are left sorting through all of their lost loved one’s stuff trying to decide what to do with it.

Let me call out my own family to give you an example (sorry in advance, Mom!) When my grandmother died, she left behind a house full of things. Not just furniture, china, and valuable items, but also other stuff like old Tupperware, office supplies, clothes, old magazines…the list goes on. As I watched my mom and aunt agonize over if they should hold on to an old set of spatulas or a pair of scissors, I learned just how much time the sorting and deciding can take.

Some of these items are sentimental and some should be tossed, and it is helpful to have a strategy before starting because it can be an emotional process.

If you find yourself in a similar situation of sorting through a house full of things, here are some ideas on how to tackle it:

  • Hire services that will help clean out the house and recommend what you should keep, toss, store, and sellThis list contains great resources in the Middle TN area.
  • Call your local nonprofits to see if they can use anything in the house you aren’t keepingthis article contains a list of nonprofits in the middle TN area who are willing to come and pick up large items.
  • Use Fairsplit or systems like it to organize and divvy up the items-Fairsplit is a way of systematically taking inventory of all of the stuff and finding an equitable way to share the items.
  • Put your keep pile in a storage unit, but keep it organized– Again, using an inventory system like Fairsplit or using tips from this article can help maintain your sanity.
  • Use LegacyBox or other services like it to digitize your loved one’s old photos, movie reels, etc. – these services can be pricey but are a great way to bring older mementos into the modern era.
  • Pick a few items that you connect with most and give them new life– I use the example of putting my grandfather’s military chest in my son’s room or my sister framing my grandmother’s scarves