Chapter 5: Your sibling’s belongings


When my brother died, I wanted all of his things to be left untouched. It took time before I was ready to go through them and make decisions about what I wanted.

My brother-in-law was in charge, and he donated everything to a charity. Maybe he just couldn’t deal with it, but I was deeply hurt. There were some special things that I wanted to keep. It has taken time, but now I feel that I don’t need them to remember her.

Although it is true that “things are just things,” sorting through belongings can bring up powerful memories and emotions. Some things might make you laugh or smile; others may surprise you as you discover something about your sibling that you didn’t previously know. Other things may bring tears.

Click on the arrows to explore these feelings.

What may help

As you think about what to keep, ask yourself if you will need to let go of some of your own things to make room for theirs.

Consider whether you will you be storing boxes or items in your home. Where and for how long? Will you need to rent a storage locker? What will that cost? If you are storing items, it can be helpful to have some idea of a timeline for when you will tackle them again.

Consider the potential financial, physical, and emotional toll on you if you are packing, unpacking, and repacking, and possibly shuttling things from basement to attic to shed to garage, etc.

If you can’t/don’t want to take all your sibling’s belongings but are finding it hard to let go of them, consider taking only a few of your sibling’s favourite things, such as a teacup (or two) rather than the whole collection.