Will You Have an Emotional Reaction or Make a Rational Decision?


by Jeannine Bryant

A call that I received last week really hit the nail on the head when it comes to our decisions about dealing with our STUFF.  This man told me, “My wife’s mother passed away 3 years ago, and we had to empty out her home quickly.  So, we boxed most of it up and brought it all here to our house, and some to a storage unit across town.  What a dumb idea!  It was an emotional reaction, instead of a rational decision, and I regret it.”

This is a common situation I hear of all the time.  Now this fellow and his wife are planning to downsize out of their home and move into a smaller townhome.  They’ve not only got 30 years of their own items compiled in the home, but boxes upon boxes of stuff that came from his mother-in-law’s home as well.  And to top it off, a storage unit to empty out.

I share this story not to shame the caller, because I hear about these situations all of the time.  I want this to be a cautionary tale to everyone listening.  In the midst of tragedy or an emergency situation, it is very easy to make a quick emotional reaction rather than a rational decision. That’s why I always want to encourage folks to plan ahead, be proactive, and rightsize now while they are NOT in the midst of an emergency.

If you happen to find yourself in the position of having to empty out a loved one’s home after they have died, I want to encourage you to take some time to deal with the items once and for all.  Even if it takes a few extra weeks and you end up delaying the sale of the home (or paying an extra month’s rent), it will be worth it in the end.  Thoughtfully remove items from the home that you wish to keep and find an avenue to sell or donate what remains.  If you move the items to a storage unit, you are not making a decision – you are simply delaying that decision.  And that is another name for clutter – delayed decisions!

You will surely have to deal with the items you put into storage (whether that’s in a storage unit or in your own home) sometime in the future – and it will be even harder then, because selling items out of a storage unit can be very difficult.  You’ll likely need to pay to have them moved again – either to a place where they can be sold, or to a charity donation.  Spending a little extra time (and money) at the beginning of the process will save you time, money and energy down the road.