Tag Archives: death

Is Your Clutter A Sign Of Unresolved Grief?

There are many different reasons we find it hard to let things go…dreams of wanting to be a different size, fond memories, thinking we’ll need things one day, anticipating life changes. But sometimes our grip on things is based on unresolved grief. It is like a different form of nostalgia and it’s something that could be overcome.

We often associate grieving with death, but really any kind of a loss can cause grief. Divorce, change in health status or physical abilities, marriage, moving, retirement, graduation, birth of a child. Even positive life events can generate feelings of loss and grief and increase our attachment to things.  Nostalgia is fine, but when it starts compromising our present, there is a problem.

Unresolved Grief

Unresolved grief is a result of unfinished business, getting stuck in loop of remorse, regret and disappointment, being unfulfilled in “what could have been” or “what could have been said or done.”  The feelings may persist years after the event.  It may be that you don’t become fully aware of the need for resolution until decades later.

You may be experiencing unresolved grief when you are trying to deal with stuff that you know is getting in your way but is just too painful to deal with…it triggers emotions that are overwhelming; pain, anger, sadness.  Especially if the stuff has been there a long time.

Examples:

  • Boxes of leftovers from an “X” that feel unpleasant – even toxic — yet can’t bring yourself to deal with?
  • An overloaded garage populated by tools from a beloved deceased parent
  • A closet full of toys and games from a child who is moved out and moved on

What can you do about it?

  • Recognize that we are socialized to avoid grief and loss, to ignore or repress lingering feelings of sadness. Often our friends and family, while well-meaning, are incapable of addressing those feelings of loss.
  • In getting organized, we can face and name these feelings and try to “get under the hood” of our attachments. Sometimes that alone may shift your perspective.
  • Don’t go it alone!

Grief support groups art generally are aimed at people who have experienced a recent death or trauma. It’s usually about providing a safe place to share feelings with others who have had a similar experience.

There is a specific form of counseling called Grief Recovery Method®.  The goal of this method is to resolve the grief. This is a process designed to deal with all types of loss and bring you to a point of resolution of your grief.  You can work with a friend or on your own, in a facilitated group, or one-on-one or virtually with a trained coach.

We are grateful to Tina Kopko, LMFT for her presentation which introduced our local chapter of Professional Organizers to the concept of unresolved grief.

 

Tina Kopko

Tina Kopko, LMFT provides the Grief Recovery Method® to individuals and groups

 

 

 

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Filed under Decluttering, disorganization, Guest Experts, Memorabilia, Perspective

Just In Case…Do You Know Where These Documents Are?

Checklist

Let’s have a show of hands.  Who loves to prepare for disasters and contemplate death?

…We didn’t think so.

Let’s have another show of hands. Who thinks of others and would like to make life easier on family and friends?

Here is a simple project to prepare for the unexpected. Regardless of the state of the rest of your house, these are the documents to keep organized and accessible just in case:

  1. Life or disability insurance policies and/or agent contact information. Don’t forget to include any coverage offered through your employer and/or auto insurance.
  2. List of assets and open accounts – you can gather sample statements or create a list of all accounts, loans, lines of credit, etc.. Make sure to include the safe deposit box key and information.
  3. Trust Document and/or name of your attorney
  4. Will
  5. Healthcare Directive and Financial POA
  6. Passwords and log-ins to unlock the phone or computer
  7. Medical cards and list of doctors/caregivers
  8. List of prescriptions
  9. Vital Records: Birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage certificates, copies of drivers licenses
  10. If you own a business, who are the key contacts? What is your emergency plan?
  11. Funeral arrangements

Whether you are partnered or not, identify the person or persons who would be tasked with managing things in your absence and share with them the locations of these documents. It’s ideal to also keep a digital copy of these items and make sure your trusted helper has access to those as well.

Think of how much easier it will be for your loved ones, and better for you, if in the time of crisis they don’t have to dig through various drawers and files looking for information unsure what they may be missing. Creating a simple system for just in case is the kind of gift that provides peace of mind to you and to those who are left to take care of business when you can’t.

 

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Filed under Business Organizing, Decluttering, General Organizing, home organizing, middle-age, organizing, Paper, paper organizing, Perspective, Seniors, Strategies

It’s Crisis Time: Do You Know Where Your Documents Are?

disaster preparedness - 1

The worst time to try and find something is when you need to have it and have little time to find it. Crises strike in many forms – natural disasters, family deaths, sudden moves, illness, divorce. Hindsight is 20-20 and that’s when we often get total clarity about what could have been done to prepare and alleviate some of the stress of the crisis.

You can be one step ahead by finding and organizing critical documents. Believe it or not, we have found all these for clients hiding among hundreds of other papers in drawers, bags, and boxes…

  • Titles for cars
  • Deductible receipts and statements for the current year
  • Grant deeds for owned property
  • Passports, birth certificates and death certificates
  • Original stock certificates
  • Improvement receipts so homeowner could deduct from purchase cost of house to reduce taxable profit
  • Genealogy records
  • Open bank and credit accounts that had been forgotten
  • Will and trust documents
  • Life insurance policies
  • Contact info for all companies that insurance you
  • Passwords
  • Social Security card
  • Pension and retirement plan records
  • Marriage and divorce documents

Many of these can be replaced if lost but often not without cost and hassle.

If you aren’t ready to create an entire filing system at least make sure to create a dedicated home for these essential documents.

Bonus: keep your important documents in something portable that you can grab in an emergency.  If all you have is a cardboard box to collect your important documents, use it.  Progress is better than perfection!

If you want to go a step further, there are products available to help you capture your vital documents. A few to consider are: FreedomFiler®Vital Records PORTAVAULT® or Suze Orman’s Protection Portfolio.

“The Freedom Filer kit is fantastic and was easy to move when I evacuated. Everything I needed was there. I love it!” Kathleen, LA wildfire evacuee

See our prior post about how FreedomFiler® works.

 

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Filed under Decluttering, Moving, Paper, paper organizing

Organizing Your Legacy

Is there anything that you wouldn't want others to deal with after you're gone?

Is there anything that you wouldn’t want others to deal with after you’re gone?

Don’t you hate cleaning up after other people’s messes? Anyone who has a roommate may have had this experience – dishes left in the sink, wet towels on the bathroom floor, laundry half done in the laundry room. What a drag to have to take care of other’s people’s stuff that they could have dealt with themselves!

How does this relate to organizing? Many times we’ve worked with clients who have brought us in to organize their homes after having dealt with cluttered estates of their parents or other relatives. They’re very aware of not wanting to leave behind the same mess for their children or friends.

It’s easy to think that’s a “someday project” – the reality is weeding is MUCH simpler and easier when it happens regularly, not put off and saved until accumulation is overwhelming.

Here are some key areas to weed regularly and keep under control:

  • Paperwork –Wading through decades of accumulated bills, account statements, articles, contracts, etc. trying to figure out what is important is a nightmare for a survivor.
  • Personal documents – Any surprising information in those old diaries and journals that you’d be loathe to have someone read after you’re gone?
  • Collections of value. If you collect anything of value, have it appraised and take care of it while you are around so when you’re gone it’s easier to deal with as a collection.
  • Collections of sentiment or hobby – If you collect things that are valuable to you but not necessarily on the open market keep the collection organized and reasonably sized. Identify a friend or organization that may make use of it after you’re gone.
  • Garage and storage areas – These are easy to get out of hand because typically there’s lots of space and it’s easy to just let older items linger in the back corners. This includes household hardware, glue, rope, paint, tools, sport supplies, wood scraps. Make regular trips to the household hazardous waste center.
  • Toiletries and cleaning supplies – Old makeup, shampoo, travel size items, specialty cleaners…these easily accumulate clogging up valuable storage space and creating a disposal chore when you’re gone.

As you are weeding, extract and keep these items separate and easy to find:

  • Key Financial Documents – Current insurance policies, bills, and estate information need to be immediately accessible if something happens to you. Purge old copies to avoid confusion.
  • Will/Trust – You do have one, right?
  • Safe Deposit Box – Information and key

If this feels overwhelming already, get help!

Utilize family and friends, hire an organizer and consult with an estate attorney. Two great Bay Area estate attorneys we recommend are Richard Lee of Blythe, Lee & Associates, 510-272-0200 x304 and Alexandria M. Ayoub of Ferguson & Berland, 510-548-9005.

What small action could you take this week to help take care of your own business so others won’t have to when you’re gone?

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Filed under Decluttering, Empty Nest, Garage, General Organizing, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Storage, Strategies