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The Daunting Task Of Clearing Out A Loved One’s Home

Posted by Karen on February 3, 2023
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Anyone who has emptied a loved one’s house after a death or a move to a nursing home knows the unique melancholy it brings. 

Scraps of paper, a song, or a piece of clothing can all send you down a rabbit hole of memories and bring on waves of grief.

I recently listened to the first episode of Anderson Cooper’s podcast “All There Is”. This was exactly the topic of that episode: “Facing What’s Left Behind”.

The setting for the first episode is his late mother’s New York City apartment, where Cooper is packing her things. 

The task is daunting. Isn’t it always?

His mother was Gloria Vanderbilt, a woman born into incredible wealth who made her mark in the fashion industry with her brand of women’s jeans in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Vanderbilt saved everything, even mundane notes, saying, “I’ll be back at 10”.

Cooper faced plowing through books, journals, thousands of Christmas cards and photos, telegrams from Frank Sinatra, and even the clothing Vanderbilt was wearing — boxed and labeled — when another son committed suicide in front of her years earlier. 

He likens the process to an archeological dig.

The podcast is poignant and, at times, funny. Cooper sheds light on and articulates what many cope with when sifting through the remnants of a life. 

I’m glad I listened to the podcast. Clearing out a loved one’s home isn’t just a physical task. It’s an emotional one. We are often eager to just “get it done”. And while that is ultimately the goal, there really is more to it than that, and we should give ourselves some grace to “feel it” when faced with this daunting task.

I have created a video on the related topic of helping a senior get ready to sell their home:

If you have any real estate-related questions for me, I can easily be reached by email by clicking here. I would be happy to hear from you!

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