Handling Heirlooms After A Family Loss

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Real Estate
Tips For Preserving And Storing Treasured Pieces

Losing a spouse causes extreme heartache for many seniors as they consider what lies ahead. Sometimes downsizing to a new home becomes necessary at this stage and trying to go through a deceased spouse's belongings can be difficult to face. Many older loved ones have special heirlooms that they want to protect and families should take great care to ensure these are properly stored.

Sentimental heirlooms need special care

Seniors often choose to move in with family, into an assisted living facility, or to a smaller home after a spouse's death. Families should try not to pressure their loved ones to do this on any particular timetable if possible, as this is a big change that comes on top of a substantial loss. However, when it is time to go through their belongings, you will want to pay special attention to those items that are valuable or hold special sentimental meaning.

Heirlooms will often be fragile and loved ones should take great care in handling them. Closetbox suggests wearing gloves when working with particularly delicate belongings like photographs, for example. Be as gentle as possible sorting through things and if you find something broken, set it aside so you can have a professional look at it. Unfortunately, loved ones will often try to fix these heirlooms themselves, doing more damage than good.

A senior may keep some heirlooms with them when they move, and others may be designated to be handed down to other family members. For those things that are not going to be sold or given away yet, storage may be the best place to keep them. As the Spokesman-Review notes, giving things away impulsively or suddenly can cause grief later on, so it may be better to hold onto things for a period of time rather than rush to clear things out.

Take the time to store things properly

Zillow points out that it is important to choose a storage unit that will provide a proper environment for the items you're storing. For example, with delicate heirlooms, you will need a unit that is kept at a comfortable, controlled temperature rather than pick a spot that is vulnerable to high and low outdoor temperatures. Moisture levels can also wreak havoc on heirlooms, so avoid spots that will be quite humid.

Not only do you have to be careful in choosing the right storage unit, you have to take the time to preserve heirlooms carefully before putting them away. If you have special clothing items to store, those will do best in preservation boxes with cedar blocks or moth balls. If you have something particularly special, like a wedding dress, consider having that professionally handled rather than do it yourself.

Find new ways to use old family treasures

Some items can be showcased in another loved one's home or repurposed creatively. Jewelry is easily transformed into new, usable pieces and vintage paintings, sketches, or photos can look wonderful on a wall as a gallery together. For those items that aren't a good fit for repurposing or putting into storage, consider taking photos of those things and showcasing the photos in a book or on the wall.

Seniors can get sensitive sorting through these items after a spouse passes. When in doubt, hold onto heirlooms that are still meaningful, putting them into storage if needed. Handle these items properly, choosing a storage location that is climate-controlled and packaging them protectively. It can take time to work through these sentimental belongings, but it will help your loved one move forward and work through powerful memories in the process.

[Image via Pixabay]

Author: Jackie Waters (Hyper-Tidy.com)