Clearing out a late loved one's house
August 8, 2016 4:11 AM   Subscribe

Those of you who have been in the unenviable position of clearing out the house of your late loved one, how did you go about it, and any tips for me? (Both practical and emotional.)

My dad died 3 weeks ago, and I will be clearing out his home in advance of renting it out. I'll be doing this over the coming weeks or even months; it's not immediate. Right now, I'm just in the planning stages.

He had a large library encompassing 3 rooms, and a nice collection of paintings by local artists. Apart from that it's just clothes and personal possessions and personal documentation. Despite my limited storage space, I do intend to keep a number of his books - the ones he recommended to me - and some of the paintings. I will sell the rest of the paintings and furniture, and donate the rest of the books. I'm currently working on an inventory of his books and paintings so that I can have a record of what he owned.

I'd like to hear how other people went about this task, rather than asking for tips regarding my own individual situation, although any tips you might have would be gratefully received. What did you think worked well, what would you have done differently? How did you decide what to hang onto and what to throw away? Apart from things you hang onto for sentimental reasons, are there things that you actually need to hang on to for logistic or legal reasons? And when it came to keeping things for sentimental reasons, where did you draw the line? Finally, how did you deal with the emotional side of the task? For me, it really seems like a betrayal (especially when it comes to the library of which he was justifiably fond and proud), and a loss of my childhood home.

Thanks to Mefites who answered my previous question, and advised me to take it easy; that was good advice.
posted by Ziggy500 to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
My fiancé's (now husband) mother passed away suddenly and he and his brother found themselves unable to cope with her loss and dealing with her estate and home. At the same time, it was a large house that yielded an impressive rental return if it were ever vacated. After a year or so, I took on the job of emptying the house and putting it up for rent and eventually, sale.

I hired a packing company to come in and pack everything up (and much the same as you, it was all antiques and paintings) and the lot went into storage until such time as her children could face going through everything. It wasn't my place to make a call on what to keep or sell, but I could at least manage the task of freeing up the house. It did eventually get sold. We ended up moving interstate and the home's contents are still in storage. Organising independent packers and storage may be an option for you if you find the process too hard at the moment. My condolences for your loss.
posted by Jubey at 4:30 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry for your loss.

My parents did a lot of this with my maternal grandparents' house, but they had the advantage of my mother having three siblings, most of whom had also had kids who had visited the house plenty. So the first thing my parents did was to give everyone in the family a few months to claim - and remove from the house - any items that they wanted. (The "remove from the house" was key.)

My grandparents had a lot of antiques too, so my parents had to deal with a lot of that. They took a three-pronged approach - first they found a fine, high-end antiques dealer, then a mid-range antique dealer, and then a junk shop guy. They let the high-end antiques dealer have a look at everything first and pick what he thought he could sell. Then they took what was left to the mid-range guy and he picked what he could sell. And what was left over after that, went to the junk shop.

But I have another idea for the paintings - which you seem especially close to - which I'm borrowing from a friend whose father was a painter himself, and died a couple years ago. She has become a curator for her late fathers' work, and has been promoting him as an "undiscovered" artist - and has managed to turn that into a sort of second career, with gallery openings around the country and even in Europe. (She's at a gallery in Paris now, showing her fathers' work all this month.) Maybe you could speak to a local gallery about doing something similar; having a showing that pays tribute to your father as a "local collector", and having it all on display for everyone to enjoy. The gallery could also handle sales of works for you in the process as well, and it would be a tribute to your father in the process.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 AM on August 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

My brothers and I got together in my mothers house and pick the out things we wanted to keep, then we together took everything that we didn't to Goidwill, and what they wouldn't take to the dump. We made several trips but it was basically done in a day. I was kind of ruthlessly practical with myself about the whole thing and took only things that I absolutely couldn't do without because I didn't have space, metaphorically or physically, to be building a shrine, and that was the only way I could get through the task.
posted by rodlymight at 5:12 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

My mother's circumstances changed recently, necessitating a move to live closer to me. Last month I sorted and packed her house, leaving some furniture and effects in it as staging for sale.

I went room-by-room and sorted everything into three piles: Keep, Charity and Junk. The Keep items included a handful of small items that I thought were worth eBaying. Keep stuff got boxed up and piled in the living room. Charity items were dealt with appropriately: books to the College Women's Book Sale, furniture and household stuff to Habitat for Humanity and the Lupus Foundation. Small Junk stuff got tossed in a trash bag and stored in the garage. Large Junk stuff got an X of blue painter's tape. I called a junk removal company to come get the trash bags and the larger items marked with Xes.

I hired labor to help pack the trailer on moving day using Moving Help. That was the greatest find of the whole operation, and the help was totally worth what I paid.

Packing the house was a huge amount of work for one person, but it was do-able. I did multiple passes for nearly everything because it was a small house with a small garage, so I didn't have much room to store and stage stuff. So I had more than one charity come by and pick stuff up, the junk remover came twice before we were done. Once the house sells, I'll return and there will be one more sorting: the things we keep will get on a truck, and the junk remover will take everything else.
posted by workerant at 5:27 AM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry for your loss.

You are at an advantage as you can take as much time as you need - so do that and take it in small pieces. But before you do anything, take a day and walk through the house and take pictures/video of it and his belongings. If you make a video, narrate it. This will help you later when you have to make those tough "keep or toss" decisions; you may not keep everything you want, but you have a visual record of it now. One of my favorite pieces of Marie Kondo's advice is to only keep what brings you joy. My favorite advice from Peter Walsh is that whatever you do keep, make sure you honor it in your home. So, with those two 'rules' in mind, I did not keep my grandmother's entire china set, (of which the pattern stirs strong memories in me of delicious Sunday pasta dinners), I took just one dish and have now hung proudly it in my kitchen as a remembrance of her.

It is tough in the beginning, but after a while it does get easier. After immediate family called dibs on things, we invited extended family and friends and had an open house where people could come and take what they'd like, it became a casual get-together kind of thing which was part of the healing I think. We then we boxed up the rest.
You won't need to bring everything you don't want to Good Will or another thrift organization, most will come to you and pick up your unwanted items, just call and schedule a pick up.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:42 AM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

My siblings an I have had to do something like this a couple of times. A few small tips that worked for us:

- First we all took the things we knew we wanted--mostly sentimental things rather than valuable things, but regardless, this can take some negotiating if there's more than one person doing the cleanout (we didn't have any trouble with this but I could see this being a point of conflict). Doing this first helped us draw the line about other potentially sentimental items more clearly, because we had already set aside the things we knew meant a lot to us.

- We thought about what's most sentimentally meaningful to us before we started to go through everything else. This kind of task always involves finding things you didn't know existed so you have to make "on the spot" calls about things to keep. I love seeing things in my dad's handwriting and I am glad I kept some (but not all of the) cards and letters we found.

- We used something similar to workerant's Keep/Donate/Trash system but with a "Maybe" category that we went through at the end. Seeing the sum total of things at the end of the process helped make calls about the Maybe pile as a final step. (If you have the physical/mental room for it, you can hang on to the Maybe stuff for a while and revisit it later.)

- Take photos of things you want to remember but not keep.

- For logistical/legal reasons, keep anything related to ownership of items, including anything related to ownership of the house.

- Many charities will come pick up large donations so we didn't have to do any hauling ourselves, except to the dump (I would consider a junk removal service in the future).

- On the emotional side, be kind to yourself. This is a difficult and intense task. And I totally get the betrayal feeling, but it helped us to remind ourselves that the task at hand wasn't to keep things exactly as they were but to find a way to honor this person and fit things (houses, property, furniture, books, cards, photos) into the way things are now.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by trixie119 at 6:47 AM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

In a similar situation, before we did anything, we had a housecleaner come in and do a full day of deep cleaning; scrub the kitchen, bathrooms, all floors and surfaces, wash curtains/linens and clean out the fridge was totally worth it. It also made it a little bit less personal; we didn't see the not-put away plates in the last meal in the house, we didn't have to worry about food going off in the fridge.

Lots of people told us it would be a waste of time and money, but honestly, coming into a clean house, and THEN starting the crazy sorting etc made a psychological difference. It also bought us a few more weeks of grieving before we even had to go back to the house; we knew that there was nothing in the fridge; the neighbor picked up the mail; and it was a clean house.

When we were ready, immediate family did the first pass, and claimed important items/took what they wanted in memoriam; and then we opened the house to extended family, with again same caveat as above that they 1. take things out of the house; and 2. help us carry obvious junk to the curb that same day. (We invited extended family in the day before the town's bulk trash pickup day to facilitate this)

Linens/clothes/etc were packed up and donated to Good Will right away; obviously nicer items were saved for extended family to look through; and then donated.

The actual 'house bit' of sorting and cleaning went quite quickly; for us it was the attic and basement that took an additional few weeks of work; and to be honest, a lot of it only got done once we had put the house on market and started getting offers and realized that we had weeks, not months to deal with it; the last push was mostly done in 2 weekends of concerted effort of putting things out on the curb (& posting to freecycle), and bulk trash pickup.
posted by larthegreat at 6:53 AM on August 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

Sorry for your loss. It's tough to have to manage emotions and deal with practical concerns at the same time.

I helped my dad and uncle do this for my grandfather's house, and to a lesser extent helped with some of my mom's stuff when she passed (dad still lives in the house). I'd suggest making sure you bring friends and/or family to help for starters.

It can be tough to get out of the mindset that wants to preserve everything that you love. You can do this without keeping the actual items, but it can be hard when it comes down to actually getting rid of things.

I think it helps to start out the first pass through the house with just cleaning. Identify trash and throw it away. Get into a rhythm where you can point at a whole shelf and just say "trash, trash, donate, donate, trash." If you find some stuff that you might want to keep or that you want to go through more carefully, flag it and save it for the second pass. Once you have successfully placed yourself in the right headspace (Clean All The Things), then it can be easier to sort through things you might want to keep. Because, honestly, you will probably actually only want a few keepsakes. But you'll need to work up to the idea of getting rid of a bunch of stuff -- so if you've already spent the morning trashing old magazines and half-filled shampoo bottles it can be a bit easier to let some things go and just hang on to a few things.

It can also help to think through or write down a list of things you might want to keep. Seems like you have a start on this already with the books and paintings in mind. If you have that list going in you can ask someone to find some items for you and set them aside -- look at them in the second pass also.

I know you have lots of time to do this, but I really think it can help to do the vast majority of the work in a single day or single weekend mega project. (Make sure you have plans for meals while you are doing the cleaning -- both to keep your helpers happy and to prevent your own hunger-induced meltdown.) Put yourself in the right mode once and get the work done, then maybe later go through the 2 or 3 remaining boxes of the most precious things at a more leisurely pace.
posted by cubby at 6:54 AM on August 8, 2016

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I found it helpful to keep repeating the following while sorting through things:

1. My father never intended his possessions to be any sort of burden to me.
2. My father found joy in his possessions, the best I could do was to help someone else find joy with them and pass them along (as opposed to sticking them in a box indefinitely).
3. If I was unsure about something, I could put it into storage and reassess later.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. It's so hard. Be kind to yourself.
posted by avocado_of_merriment at 6:57 AM on August 8, 2016 [14 favorites]

oh I forgot to add;

Hold on to any random cleaning supplies until your absolute last day in the house; having extra cleaners and paper towels and gloves on hand came in extremely handy several times.
posted by larthegreat at 7:00 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Honest truth? We rented a dumpster.
posted by A189Nut at 7:11 AM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am sorry for you loss.

When I had to do the same for my father's flat I learned one thing that was valuable for me: I did not have to keep everything to remember it.

See, my dad was somewhat of a pack rat. I found drawings that I've made in middle school in his office, along with every letter I've ever sent him. He had specialist magazines from 30 odd years stacked in the wardrobe, etc.

My solution was to photograph the items and send them on their way. That way I had a visual inventory of the things that was important to dad - but not important enough for me to keep.

Also a valuable lesson: Bring in help, allow people to help. Friends or family to help with the lifting, bagging, dragging and coffee making. Trying to do it by myself almost broke me, until neighbors and friends of dad came calling at the door. Through them I got to hear new stories about my father, how he was liked and what he had helped them with through the years. I gained new perspectives of my father.

Take your time.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 7:18 AM on August 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

We had to do this with my mom's condo (we were under a time crunch, though.) If you go down to Home Depot, you can buy a Bagster for tossing anything you determine not worth keeping (and, there will be an amazing amount of stuff like that.)

As for what you keep...Try not to let reminiscing get the better of you. Almost everything you touch is going to hold some amount of memories. But, you can't keep everything. You just can't. Separate things into "keep" and "Goodwill" piles and stick to your regimen. You are going to have to be pretty hard-core when it comes to judging items to keep/donate/trash. And, when you're done, you definitely will feel like you mis-categorized some items. That can't be avoided. It just can't.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:28 AM on August 8, 2016

You've gotten some good answers above on the practical stuff. When my father died, my sister and I only had a short time to clean out his apartment. My parents had downsized several times and been fairly ruthless about getting rid of stuff, so it could have been worse, but we still had quite a bit to do and not a lot of time. We basically used the Keep/Donate/Trash system but with a "Maybe" category as well (and the maybes went into storage to deal with later).

In terms of the emotional side, I want to repeat what avocado_of_merriment said, as I strongly agree with this:
1. My father never intended his possessions to be any sort of burden to me.
2. My father found joy in his possessions, the best I could do was to help someone else find joy with them and pass them along (as opposed to sticking them in a box indefinitely).
3. If I was unsure about something, I could put it into storage and reassess later.

The advice to video and photo the home as it was and the things you can't keep is also good. Also, Rabarberofficer's advice on allowing people to help is good.

My mother was an artist, and my father had kept a number of pieces of her artwork, as well as art that they had bought. My sister and I kept a few pieces of both for ourselves, gifted most of the rest to my parents' friends and relatives (who expressed a desire to have things), and only wound up selling a few pieces with higher value.

There were some things that it was hard to let go of, but I am not my parents. I tried to keep a bit of the best, most important of the sentimental things, and then just reminded myself that my parents had enjoyed them while they were alive, and that that was the most important thing; that they enjoyed them while they were alive. What this did not mean was that I needed to keep everything they had valued forever. It helped a lot to remember how they had handled the deaths of their parents and how they had dealt with their parents possessions. They had not kept everything from their parents, any more than they expected us to keep all of their things.
posted by gudrun at 7:36 AM on August 8, 2016

Honestly, we mostly handled this by kicking the can down the road a bit. We had to vacate my dad's apartment, but we got a storage unit for all but the obvious discards (mattress, towels, unsentimental kitchen stuff like spatulas, etc., anything broken or that we knew he didn't like anyway).

We just held onto that storage until we could approach the stuff without the fog of fresh grief, and then it's amazing how easily you can tell "this is actually sentimental to me" vs "well everything he touched is sentimental now." It hurt to get rid of a few very large pieces that none of us could possibly use or store, but it's 8 years later and I *still* wouldn't have use or room for them. Instead, I drink coffee from his favorite mug every morning, and it's better than any furniture I could have crammed into my series of tiny studio apartments.

Here's the thing: you can always give away or sell something later if you find that, actually, it doesn't mean that much or you just can't use it. So if you have the space or the funds to store some stuff, err on the side of keeping it until emotions work themselves out some.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:00 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

> We rented a dumpster.

We did this too after our dad died, and what we found was that once you start dumping stuff in the dumpster, it somehow becomes a lot easier to get rid of it; a sort of dump-mania takes over, and things that you might have sighed over, or even fought over, suddenly are revealed in their true nobody-needs-this light. Obviously I don't know if this will work for you, but it made life easier for my brothers and me.
posted by languagehat at 9:06 AM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I had a professor in college who died. His widow had an open house to let his colleagues and students choose any of his books that they wanted (I assume she took out whatever the family wanted first). It was a moving way to memorialize him.
posted by FencingGal at 9:13 AM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I am sorry for your loss.

Others have made many good points. I will add a few:

nthing dumpster - once we had one and started chucking things, it became a lot easier. Two friends who had no relationship with my dad helped to clear the house out and their perspective helped take the sentimentality out of the work, so we just got it done.

My dad had a very large collection of books, and after taking a few we wanted to keep and the noticeably rare and/or old ones, we donated all of them to the local library. They were ecstatic. I also allowed my family to come through the house after the funeral and take what they wanted, including furniture, and that was incredibly helpful.

Emotionally, it helped to have a bunch of friends and family around to help me sort things, and also to just kind of be there when I needed a hug. Take breaks, take care of yourself, eat food.
posted by bedhead at 11:46 AM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Emotionally, it helped to have a bunch of friends and family around to help me sort things, and also to just kind of be there when I needed a hug. Take breaks, take care of yourself, eat food.

Seconding this. Also, bedhead's mention of "friends" is reminding me that if you (and any siblings you may have) had any friends that your father liked a lot, you may want to invite them to take some things as well (let family have first dibs, then call in the friends).

A good friend of mine was really close to his mother, and I went over for emotional support when he was cleaning out her apartment; while I was there, he offered me the chance to take some of her things, partly because his mother always liked me too, and partly because he liked the idea that I would be getting some use out of them. And a few weeks after that, he also set aside something he thought I would especially like and offered to bring it to me. They were little things - just some jewelry and a tea set (he also tried to get me to take an end table but I couldn't fit it in my place) - but he's since said that it's still a comfort to know that I'm using them.

And don't forget any close friends of your father's as well. Friends don't always get considered in this kind of scenario, and when I die I'd hate to have my chosen family left out and only my blood family there to go through my things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:13 PM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Condolences to you for your loss --- it's hard to do this, and even worse since it always has to be done when that loss is fresh.

The first thing we did with our parents' house was, my siblings and I each made a list of the ten things we each wanted most; we then went round-robin choosing an item from our lists --- sort of like a sports draft: if no-one picked something before your turn, you got it. Other than that, all I can say is that you have to just power through it, just keep going and don't stop to obsess over everything (my oldest sister spent most of her time sitting on a couch and mooning over a tin full of announcements of her birth between making snide comments about how cold I was acting, which was not really helpful!). If some specific item does get you too wound up, move on to work on something else for a while.

Then it was on to cleaning out stuff. I (theoretically it was a group effort, but yeah: I got the bulk.... thanks, sisters!) did closets, cabinets and bureaus first: got all the most personal stuff out of the way; bagged up for Goodwill whatever I could, tossed out stuff like underwear & socks that can't be donated. Ditto linen closets: almost all sheets , towels and blankets bagged to be donated. My only problem in the bedroom was the complete surprise of finding a handgun in Dad's sock drawer, but calling the cops non-emergency number took care of that, easy-peasy. Bathrooms next, which were really easy since almost everything there was trashed. Trashed everything in the pantry, a big freezer and the refrigerator; glad I happened to take care of that on one of many days none of my siblings came over to help, because a couple of them got weird about "the waste". Sheesh. Most pots & pans went to Goodwill, although there were a few special ones various people kept. One of my siblings kept the good china; the daily stuff and most of the glasses also went to Goodwill.

That basically brought it down to the furniture and art on the walls, which is the biggest/bulkiest stuff but also usually the least emotionally fraught. Again, whatever someone in the family wanted they got, then we called in Goodwill who sent a truck to pick up the rest.

It almost sounds like it might be worth it for you to have an estate appraiser come in: they can valuate stuff, and possibly sell a bunch on consignment for you, which will help take a load off your shoulders. Definitely get a book appraiser in: with three rooms of books, there's a good chance that'd make a lot more financial sense then just donating them all.
posted by easily confused at 2:28 PM on August 8, 2016

I find the responses to this post so touching...but really? Not one Jerry Springer-style family fight? No hair-pulling over Aunt Dotties "antique" cameo? No cousins screaming over priceless art? I have to say, I'm a little surprised that so many people thought it was a fne idea to invite a group of family into the deceased's house to pick over things without so much as a teacup shattering in anger. This is what I fear will happen when my parents die, tbh.
posted by BeBoth at 5:34 PM on August 8, 2016

I was indeed afraid of that very thing, BeBoth! But while there was some relatively quiet snarkery ("you grabbed all of Mom's x!" "You had a chance to take it, but you grabbed all the y instead!") folks seem to generally behave --- and I've been through what, three? house clearings now, and it's (thankfully) never been as bad as I feared.... and I may snark myself about how my siblings left me the bulk of the work on our parents' house, but that also meant not having to listen to them nitpick day after day.

Generally it seems that while there will, inevitably, be some folks with a perception that they've been 'cheated', if everyone at least tries to work within a relatively fair agreed-upon framework, then they'll keep most of their crankiness to a minimum in public.
posted by easily confused at 5:55 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

We had a nightmare situation in my family, but the details are so bizarre, anyone who knows us would recognize it immediately. I could write a novel though.
To try to turn some of it into positive advice, I'd say don't sell the house when it's still packed with stuff, then spend three weeks dithering about what to do, resulting in an insane and completely unnecessary time crunch.
posted by FencingGal at 6:52 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Very sorry for your loss.

Some things that helped when we cleaned out my parents' house prior to sale... we had a couple weeks to get it done.

* I wasn't able to take more than a small stack of books. I took photos of my father's books and videos on the shelves, as he had arranged them. These photos are my keepsakes of his favorite movies and reading. Over the years I will watch some of those movies and read some of those books. They won't be his own copies. I'll get them from the library or used book store.

* My brother asked at his church if there were any families that needed furniture. My parents' well-worn furniture went to some families with kids, and parents with lower-paying jobs. We paid to have the furniture moved to them. One family sent us a photo of all the kids on Mom's old sofa. I will treasure that photo.

* If you have time, meet with several antique dealers, or estate sale people. They all will have different ideas. I found it a bit challenging to have them come in and look at my parents possessions as "things for sale". But it helped me detach a bit from all those possessions.

* For myself, I decided that I would cherry-pick a few favorite items. I decided to take only what would fit into my own home. I ordered a small shipping container, and took only what fit in the container. Storage lockers are expensive, and it's easy to just keep paying, and put off dealing with the stuff. However, it may be necessary for emotional reasons.

It's very hard when the house and possessions are all you have left of someone you love. I felt like the dispersal of their possession was like another death. But it gets easier as time passes.
posted by valannc at 7:40 PM on August 8, 2016

I'm sorry for your loss.

Did your dad put in his will what he wanted done with his things?
posted by brujita at 10:00 PM on August 8, 2016

Response by poster: Did your dad put in his will what he wanted done with his things?
posted by brujita at 10:00 PM on August 8

He left the decisions to us. He implied that he wanted us to keep living in the flat, but that is not turning out to be a feasible long-term solution for Reasons. It does add to that sense of betrayal I mentioned though. But I know that if he were here and could understand the situation he would not have insisted that we keep the place as-is.

Thank you very much for the good advice, guys. This is all very helpful.
posted by Ziggy500 at 10:42 PM on August 8, 2016

Lots of good suggestions above. Two of my sisters and I cleaned out my parents' house this past spring. First...we put together a spreadsheet of all the "valuable" things--antiques, paintings (my mother was an artist), keepsakes. (We could then share the spreadsheet with a sister who lives far away). We did a round-robin of choosing among the items and then "labeled" each with a colored ribbon (obviously a different color per sister).

As we went through the house, we had a dump pile and a donate pile and occasionally added something to the keep list. Anything that the three of us weren't sure about, we gave to my sister who lives far away so she could decide if she wanted the things.

It took us three or four months of one-day weekends to get the house cleared (although it went on the market after most of the crap was gone, but the antiques remained to help show the house). We worked 12 and 14 hour days. One sister was the driver of the work--me and my other sister just showed up and worked. It was good to have someone insisting we get the work done.

And last, we hired movers to take what we each had selected to our own homes.

In between, we often went home with full cars of miscellaneous things. Something one of our children could use in their new homes (like a microwave oven; daily flatware; pots and pans).

It was hard hard hard and pretty early I learned not to wear makeup because I would be in tears most of the time (my parents were killed by a careless driver). Dividing things up was easy--I'm lucky that all four sisters love each other and could divide up possessions without fuss.

I don't know how well my sisters have done putting our inherited items away. My house--now 8 months later--looks like a hoarder lives there because of the things I brought home. I've only managed to unpack/use a few things and even that took a lot of emotional strength. I know I'll get there eventually and I'm lucky that I'm married to a man who is accepting of this shortcoming of mine.

I know how horrible it is to lose a parent. I wish you the best..
posted by byjingo! at 10:21 AM on August 9, 2016

You could make a catalog of your fathers' library on LibraryThing. Library Thing keeps track of what books appear together in libraries, and what books rarely appear together, so the collection would not only be recorded but would always be adding its mite of your father's opinions to the total record. $25 for unlimited life membership, though.
posted by clew at 3:37 PM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

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