16 March 2015

Cleaning Out a Parents House After Their Death -- Genealogically Speaking

Some time in our future, we may each find ourselves cleaning out the house of a deceased parent (though the same would apply for anyone’s household that we maybe tasked with cleaning out).  Or, maybe it’s just time for mom and/or dad to downsize from a house into an apartment or assisted living facility. 

What do you (or other family members) keep?  How do you handle what you don’t keep?  This can be an emotional time.  How, as now stewards for future generations, do we decide what to do?  How do we keep perspective?

Last fall I read Sorting Saturday: Cleaning Mom’s House by Wendy Littrell (All My Branches Genealogy) and it reminded me that my father is getting older each year (as am I) and that ALL houses, apartments, rooms, etc where you find people living are all mini museums. 

We ALL keep bits and pieces (whether stored in drawers, rooms, attics and basements, storage sheds, etc) that have significance to us as we’ve journeyed through life.  Some of it may also have significance to others. After attending my first ever Don McLean show the other week, I gave my daughter our newly “signed” copy of his 1971 album American Pie which was one of the first albums I bought with some hard-earned babysitting money back when it came out!  I know that she shares my love of this album.  Now, I still have many other albums and they just don’t have the significance of this one to either one of us and whose future fate are uncertain.

I haven’t yet personally had to clean out a parent’s house and there are others who have done so and written about their experience.  Though each of our journeys will be unique, you are NOT alone!

If you are currently in the process of doing this, anticipate doing it soon or just know it’s probably in your future, besides reading the Sorting Saturday post, you might also read these related posts (not directly genealogical in nature) ...
+ Cleaning out my Mothers House (Read the comments)

These are just a few of the many articles you can find online on this topic.

If you have already cleaned out a parent’s (or other relative’s house), what tip(s) would you give to others?

Are there “saving family history”-specific tip(s) that you would give to others?

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