Cleaning Home When a Family Member Passes Away

Planning to sell Estate?

When you lose someone you love, the thought of going through their things can be overwhelming. However, in most situations, it’s not a task that you can delay- especially if you’re planning to get the house ready to sell.

However, before you get started on this emotional task, consider the following tips for where to begin, how to get the support you need, how to resolve disputes, and how to allow yourself the time you need to grieve.

If you are in Western North Carolina, contact S&S Waste Services when you are ready to begin this process. We offer 3 sizes of roll-off dumpsters. Simply choose the one that fits your needs, fill it up, and we’ll take care of the rest.

5 Tips for Cleaning Out Your Loved One’s Home

Below are 5 tips for cleaning out your loved one’s home after they pass.

Take your time- but don’t delay

When you lose someone you love, the last thing on your mind is going through their closets and cabinets. Don’t force yourself to get started if you’re not ready. On the other hand, don’t keep putting it off either.

While this is a very personal decision, it’s better to get started sooner instead of later, if you can handle it emotionally. Some people hold on to a house for several years, working on it a little at a time. This can be very difficult for some people because it keeps hanging over your head.

When you do get started, start with something easy, such as the pantry or garage. These things are not likely to be emotionally charged. Then, as you move on to the sentimental items, allow yourself time to grieve. After all, you don’t want to force yourself to make big decisions about what to keep and what you can let go of before you’re ready. If you get stuck on some items, place them in a box and then come back to them when you feel like you’re ready to make a decision.

Recruit others to help you

Cleaning out the home after you lose someone you love is a major task. Unfortunately, many people choose to do it alone. It is important to understand that this can be a very emotional and physical task- so if you need help, ask for it.

When you are experiencing strong emotions, it can be difficult to make decisions and think rationally. Friends and professionals are usually more objective about the situation and can guide you through the process.

Bring in a friend that can easily get rid of items such as expired food or toothbrushes. If there are bigger items you need help with, you may want to call in a professional. You may even wish to hire a professional organizer that can help you manage this process from the start. If there are big items that you don’t want to keep, you can hire trash haulers and movers to get them out of your way.

You should also consider hiring a shredding company to get rid of old papers and sensitive documents or an estate sale professional to help you sell valuables.

Deciding whether to keep or toss when emotions are high

When you lose someone you love, you probably don’t really want to get rid of everything that makes you think of them. Avoid tossing everything immediately- you haven’t had time to process your emotions. Later on, you may think that you got rid of something you should have kept. 

If you’re not sure about whether to get rid of something or keep it, consider keeping one piece of it. For example, instead of keeping the full china set, just keep one place setting. This allows you to hold on to something that reminds you of your loved one without bringing home something that takes up space.

Don’t keep anything out of obligation. If it’s not something that you will use, you should let it go.

Stay on top of disputes

If you have siblings, this process can become tense really quickly. What if you both want the set of crystal champagne flutes or the love seat?

One way to get through disputes is to take a gym class approach to dividing up the items:

Place everything out in the open and each one of you should take a turn choosing one. If you are arguing over a single item that you can’t split up, consider a shared-custody approach: you keep it part of the time and your sibling has it part of the time. Ultimately though, you really have to determine if a particular item is worth the fight.

Allow yourself time and space to grieve

As you start planning to get started with cleaning your loved one’s home, remember that you need to allow yourself to take time to step back, reflect, and recharge. You will get emotionally burnt out quickly if you try to do too much at once.

When you get started, put a limit on yourself. For example, perhaps you should only focus on one room a day or maybe you should only work a few hours at a time. You must decide what you can handle.

When you set a goal, it allows you to see small wins. This process is mentally and emotionally draining, so boundaries are critical. It’s not easy to get rid of your loved one’s belongings, so make sure you give yourself time and let yourself feel the emotions as they come.


When you lose a loved one, you will probably feel overwhelmed by the thought of going through their things. However, it’s something that must be done- especially if you don’t plan to keep the home. When you’re ready to get started, contact S&S Waste Services and get one of our dumpsters. We offer 3 sizes based on your needs. We will bring it to you- simply fill it up and we will haul it off for you.