The death of a loved one: how to manage their possessions when they’ve passed on

For anyone who’s had a family member pass away, you’ll know that the aftermath of their death can be pretty hectic. From organizing a memorial to making sure everyone who needs to know has been told of said passing. Having to worry about their home and belongings is more than most people are ready to deal with right away. Here are some helpful tips when it comes to their things.

 Their home

Whether they owned or rented their home, someone will need to check in, make sure the stove wasn’t left on or any pets left unattended. Ideally someone could go stay or at least check up on the place every so often until you have a chance to sort things out properly.

Even if they rent, you should have at least a month to get things sorted before the place needs to be empty, provided their rent was up to date.

Their pets

If the friend or family member who has passed away has pets, they’ll need to be taken care of. Best case scenario; have someone the animals are familiar with look after them in their own home. This will give them time to adjust to the loss of their owner while unsettling them as little as possible.

When they need to be re-homed, try to keep them together. A goldfish won’t really care, but dogs that have been together their whole lives won’t handle separation well.

Their belongings

Aside from abiding by their will, which may take several months to be properly processed, you’ll need a fair amount of time to process their lifetime of belongings. If there’s no hurry to get things out of their house, leave things where they are and go over it all in your own time.

If their house or apartment needs to be clear, don’t be too hasty. Rushing the process, particularly in the aftermath of a funeral, could mean that important items get lost or tossed.

Consider hiring a storage unit until you have a chance to do things properly. This puts everything in a safe place, until you have the time. If you don’t already know of somewhere, check online. E.g. if you’re in Toronto, search for “storage units Toronto”, and you should find what you need.


No matter how strong or stoic you might think you are, losing someone close to you can break the best of us. Death is certain, but what happens after that is not and can be scary to think about. Even if it’s simply a check-in or a preventative measure, consider seeing a grief counselor. They will help you reconcile, adjust and focus on the good times you shared with the person.

After a loss, don’t rush anything. Make sure the essentials are taken care of and worry about the rest later. Most importantly, keep in touch with the people you care about and make sure they know you love them.

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