Austin's Blog

 

Clearing the Possessions of a Loved One

December 29th, 2019    Author:

When a loved one dies, one of the most difficult tasks you may have to take on is clearing out their home. It can be a difficult and emotional time, but it’s also an important step in the grieving process and there are ways to make it easier to handle. 

 

The art of death cleaning

The first way is to do what you can now to make it easier for your loved ones. In Sweden, there’s a tradition called ‘doestaedning’ or ‘death cleaning’, which involves getting rid of unwanted possessions while you’re still alive.

Decluttering has become big business here in the UK, as many of us strive to live more sustainable and minimalist lives. But decluttering also has a much bigger impact on our families when we pass away, as they will inevitably have less ‘stuff’ to clear.

Death cleaning is described as a ‘gentle art’; it can be very empowering and there is no need to rush the process.

There will be things you realise you don’t need and can donate to a local charity – anything from clothes to excess vases (things you don’t even think about that take up space) – and then items you want to keep in the family and can offer out to people now rather than leaving them to have the discussion after you’ve passed; this could be a piece of furniture, or even jewellery.

You should of course make a will, but can also really help your family out by talking to beneficiaries about the items in your possession. It’s a sad fact that many family feuds stem from arguments over items going missing, or indecision over who should get what. For anything not specifically mentioned in your will, think about having those conversations now with the relevant people to save stress for them later down the line.

 

Emotional attachment

The second way to make this process easier is to consider timing. We all have emotional attachment to inanimate objects; some of us struggle to let anything go, while others are happy to keep one or two things that remind them of the person they have lost.

It’s strange to think that a teacup or everyday watch can embody a loved one once they pass; but items like this can, and do. By waiting until you are emotionally ready, parting with a loved one’s possessions will feel like the right thing to do, rather than a secondary loss.

 

Doing it by the book

The next way is all about making sure everything is kept clear between family members. When someone dies, the distribution of their estate is placed in the hands of the executor.

Assets are distributed in accordance with the terms of the will, but when it comes to all of the smaller items that aren’t in the will, it’s sensible for the executor to put measures in place to ensure each family member can agree what is happening to each item.

The best way to do this is to go around the property and make an inventory of everything inside. Then you can sort items into categories such as; throw away, donate to charity and keep, ready for everyone to get together and make the final decisions.

If you jointly decide to sell some items, it’s sensible to keep a receipt book of all of the proceeds so that you can refer to it if questions are later raised.

 

The perfect keepsake

Finally, there are some lovely ways of making your loved one’s possessions into perfect keepsakes. For example, you may have a selection of their ties, which can be made into a cushion cover, or a shirt into a teddy bear.

You may want to create a memory box of possessions that you wish to keep, such as photos, certificates, newspaper cuttings and birthday cards.

Sometimes it can be as simple as keeping their old watch on your bedside table next to a photo. Do whatever works for you and, most importantly, take your time.

How to write an obituary

April 24th, 2018    Author:

An obituary gives notice of a person’s death along with details of the funeral service and memorial information. You might want to write a short obituary for the local paper and a longer version to be read as a eulogy at the service. This can celebrate the deceased by including more about their personality, their achievements and significant life events. A detailed obituary makes a lovely lasting tribute that can be used on a memorial website or as a remembrance in a family scrapbook.

Here are a few tips that we hope will help you when writing an obituary…

Announcing the death

The obituary should start by detailing the name and age of the deceased along with their place of residence and the time and place of death. Use language that you feel comfortable with – some people prefer to say ‘died’ while others might want to write something like ‘passed away’. It’s also up to you whether you state the cause of death. In the case of sudden death, it may help you having to repeatedly explain the cause to people around you.

Listing the family
As part of the obituary, you need to list surviving family members as well as immediate family who preceded the deceased, starting with the closest relative first. Write the relative’s first name followed by the first name of their spouse in brackets and then the surname – for example: Helen (Rory) Jones. If the couple aren’t married, follow this format: Helen (Rory Brown) Jones. With a large family, it may not be possible to list everyone so here you can keep it to numbers, such as ‘ten grandchildren’.

Notifying mourners
An important part of the obituary is to let mourners know details of the funeral service and this should include the time, date and venue plus the officiant’s name. Similar details should be given for the burial or cremation.

Leaving a special message

It’s not compulsory but you may want to end the obituary by thanking a particular hospital, hospice or care home. You can also use the last part of the obituary to inform people about making a donation rather than leaving floral tributes, or sign off with a line from a poem or prayer.

Showing a photo
You don’t have to include a photo with the obituary, but it will help the notice to stand out and make it easier for friends and neighbours to spot in the newspaper. For this reason, it’s best to use an up-to-date photo of the deceased so that they are easily recognisable.

* If you have any questions about writing an obituary, please contact Austin’s on 01438 316623 or come in to any of our branches

5 A Day

May 24th, 2017    Author:

We were stunned when this amazing floral display arrived a few weeks ago.  It’s certainly different and we’ve never seen anything quite like it!  Becky from Aura Floral Design based in Stevenage was approached by the family who said they were looking for something a bit different.  Michael loved his fruit and veg and asked Becky to create a tribute which was fitting for him.  We think she did an amazing job.

 

Fruit and Veg Display

Let’s talk about the ‘D’ word

April 26th, 2017    Author:

Death and dying are not something most people naturally want to talk about. In fact, one research study found that people would rather discuss money or politics with family and friends. So it’s often not until a loved one dies that our thoughts turn to their wishes concerning their funeral.

Unfortunately, according to the study, only 30% of people had let someone know their funeral wishes. It also found that because of people’s reticence to talk about death, only 25% of respondents had asked a family member about their end of life wishes and just 7% had written down their wishes about the care they’d like if they were unable to make decisions.

With Dying Matters Week  taking place next month, it’s hoped that people will be encouraged to think about and discuss death and dying. During the week there will be nationwide events on this important subject, including coffee mornings, healing woodland walks, spiritual ceremonies, talks and film screenings.

It may be a good time to open up the conversation with loved ones and ask them questions such as how they would like to be looked after in later life, whether they’ve made a will and what kind of funeral they’d like. Perhaps they have a particular song they’d like or they have a favourite colour they’d like incorporated into the ceremony.

Talking about death doesn’t have to be morbid or depressing. Chatting about it is a great opportunity to think about what you’d like and to let friends and family know your wishes. When the time comes, it will help them to know that they are doing the right thing and that everything is as you wanted it.

* For help and support planning a funeral, please contact us on 01438 815555.