He Is at Peace

Dear Marie:

My husband passed more than a year ago from Alzheimer’s disease. The progress of the disease was very slow. At first, we didn’t know he had it but the doctor later said it had been there for a while. I was his primary care giver for more than 5 years before I had to finally put him in a facility because I could no longer take care of him. He kept wandering off. At one point it took several hours to find him.

I know he is at peace and even though I miss him, I'm glad he is free. My question is ‐‐ I want to clean out my husband's clothing and belongings but it is so overwhelming. Should I put this off? What is the right time for all of this?

-- Waiting for the Right Time in Portland, Maine


Dear Waiting:

The right time to clean out your husband’s belongings is when you feel it's time. Never let anyone else push you into clearing out his belongings because that person feels it's time.


If you're ready and feel overwhelmed, as you have stated – it might be a good idea to have a friend or relative come over to help you. Having another person there can help you relax that overwhelmed feeling.


If you're ready and there isn’t anyone available to help, that’s ok too. Just go slow. Start in one room and clear it of his things before moving to the next room. Be sure to put on some music. Make it upbeat. This will also help you get through the job.


Plan ahead of time where his items are going (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.) You want to move them out of the house, not shuffle them from one room to the next. Once you have cleared out his belongings, clean the room and rearrange it, if you feel the need. This helps make the space yours.