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After a loved one dies, there’s lots of stuff to deal with. Some of it is painfully charged with memories. My freezer holds the last frozen vegetables my husband bought for us, now more than seven months old and quite freezer burned. This week, the Metrocard David bought me expired and I had to renew it. I burst into tears in the subway station. For some, it’s soap or candles or cleaning supplies. None of it makes sense logically and what triggers us varies, person-to-person.

I was able to donate a lot of my husband’s clothes and shoes pretty quickly after he passed away but not his hats, vintage glasses, ties and tennis racquets. I have many friends for whom sorting through clothes is almost impossible. I had to have a friend deal with his cologne. I haven’t been able to use my shampoo and conditioner which David most loved on me. I can’t open the last 30 sympathy cards I got although I put about 15 others up on the door before I got tired of crying. His last watercolor painting setup is still in my bedroom, covered in dust.

Be patient and honor your own heart’s desires. Take your time. Ask for support from the people who love you.

If you love someone who is bereaved, know that the struggle to let go of stuff is not imaginary or unreasonable. What stuff it is may not make sense to you. That’s OK. Be patient and offer help. Your presence can make it possible to break through the melancholy and dragging entropy, and move forward incrementally.