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Approach estate-clearing as “lightsizing”

September, 2010

Necessity, who is the mother of invention.” ­– Plato

Whether it is clearing out an estate when a loved one has passed away or downsizing from a family home to a residence, people become overwhelmed and need help.

I lost my parents within three weeks of one another and travelled 10 hours each way to dismantle the lives of those so precious to me. Balancing work, family and elderly parents is no easy task.

If you happen to live in another part of the country or in another country altogether, the task is even more daunting.

Shortly after my own experience, an elderly gentleman who had the task of taking care of his sister’s worldly effects asked me for help. I knew what had to be done.

I enlisted the help of my partner and all-round handyperson, Kathryn Page, and together we cleared and sorted a lifetime’s worth of treasures, photographs and memorabilia, paperwork, valuables and antiques. We organized it so the gentleman was able to disperse things in accordance with his sister’s wishes.

We also took care of the hum-drum – the food, recycling, clothing, medicine cabinet and the remainder of the household contents.

We were there to hold his hand, to guide him through the process and to make the process as worry-free as possible.

Packing up the home of a loved one is physically and emotionally draining; it is also time-consuming and stressful. As people struggle with family, work and personal obligations, balance is lost.

A lay person suddenly thrust in the role of estate executor/liquidator might not know where to start.

People come to see their possessions as part of their identity – they are elements of a person’s life.

It is difficult to view parting with a lifetime of treaures as “lightsizing” and to remain positive.

There is a need for assistance with all aspects of lightsizing and estate clear-out, from cleaning and home-staging to auction co-ordination, itemization and valuation services, charitable and non-charitable donations, packing and shipping services and complete disposal services. People must be treated with compassion as they grapple with the massive task before them, and assistance must be given in a caring and sensitive manner.



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