Joy from Beyond




After a Loved One passes away, we are often called to put the home to rest. While working, we set aside valuables or sentimental items to distribute to our friends and family. But what is the fate of those not-so-special everyday items?


In the kitchen, set aside pots and pans, utensils, dishes, and unopened canned or packaged food. Donate these items to a homeless shelter, refugee resettlement agency, secondhand store, or religious institution.


Donate office supplies (including wiped computers), printers, toner, and house plants to a local business, non-profit, senior center, or school.


Offer sports equipment, games, books, instruments, or craft supplies to an after-school program or senior center.


After wiping old cell phones, donate them to Medic Mobile, an organization providing secondhand cell phones to health workers around the world.


Homeless shelters, work placement programs, and secondhand stores connected to charities accept clothes, hangers, and shoes.


Animal rescue organizations appreciate linens, blankets, towels, paper products, and cleaning supplies.


First aid, cleaning supplies, personal care products, and everyday items like batteries, lightbulbs, and tools can be dropped off at a homeless shelter or resettlement agency.


Many cities have secondhand shops connected to charities with a staff of movers available to pick up your Loved One’s furniture, lamps, and rugs.


Consider giving away the items you are unable to donate. If your Loved One’s vacant property is in a well patrolled neighborhood, post advertisements listing the remaining free goods on websites like Next Door, Craig’s List, Let Go, and the Free Cycle Network. Note the date and time range the items will be available and request that the new owners come to the street or alley in front of the property to collect what they want. On the day of the giveaway, organize the piles of freebees every few hours. Finally, at the end of the day, collect and dispose of the items that were not claimed. 


To paraphrase Margareta Magnusson, author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, if we use our imagination, we are able to see the joy our Loved One’s belongings will bring to their new owners. And isn’t joy what our Loved One would want to foster? 


About the Author

Pamela Martin is the founder of Long World, a home closeout service for people who have lost a Loved One. Long World completes the tasks associated with putting a deceased person’s home to rest (for example, consigning and donating valuables and preparing a home for resale). She lives in Chicago but travels throughout the U.S. to close homes.