Selling my late husband’s bicycle brought a flurry of interested emails.’Will you take a check?’ DELETE ‘Can you deliver it to me?’ DELETE
When you get to the point in the grieving process where you’re ready to start clearing out, you may find yourself donating clothes to charitable organizations as well as selling some belongings. Tools, sports equipment and collectibles are just a few items that can usually bring in a little cash at a time when finances are probably tight. Or maybe you want to remove reminders. Whatever the reason, be careful when posting items for sale. A few tips:
- Use a generic email address that does not contain your name. Or important dates. (Yes, scammers will figure out your DOB.)
- Use plural language in communications – “We will be available at…” – to ward off anyone with bad intent.
- Try to have someone in the house with you at the time of the appointment.
- If possible, have the item in your garage so you don’t have to have strangers in your house.
- Don’t give out a phone number if possible, stick to the generic email address for communication.
- DO NOT mention you are widowed. Keep explanations simple. This is where the ‘white lie’ is acceptable.
- If the interested party’s email reflects their name, don’t be shy to Google them.
- Craigslist and ebay are not dating sites. Do not use them as such.
- Don’t forget Amazon is also another market in which to sell smaller items that are easily shipped.
- If you opt to host a tag sale, have one or two people with you for company, as well as to help you schlep all that stuff.
- When donating, don’t forget to get a receipt for your taxes.
When my husband died suddenly, I didn’t think too far into the future, I couldn’t. I needed my strength for more immediate demands.
To those of you recently widowed: Be present. The future will find you soon enough.
Although it’s natural to obsess about tomorrow, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Give yourself the benefit of staying present, focus on the now. You’ve undoubtedly been counseled not to make any major decisions in the first year. Prudent advice. But it’s not just about the finances of whether to pay off your mortgage or the logistics of moving closer to your kids; it also has to do with giving yourself time to decompress. The future – uncertain for everyone – seems a bit more daunting for the widowed. We’ve made plans with a partner. Now everything’s changed.
Take a breath. Save tomorrow’s troubles for tomorrow. Take comfort in your support group. Relish the simple joys of each day: a morning cup of coffee, a much-needed laugh with a close friend, a neighbor’s hug.
Thinking of the future can be as upsetting as dwelling on the past. So be present. Let your tomorrows unfold slowly.
In this New York Times article, the filmmaker, Judith Helfand, advises people to go through their loved one’s stuff…with them.
Of course, that’s not always possible. It wasn’t for me. My husband’s diagnosis of “a 90% chance of dying in two weeks” and immediate hospitalization didn’t afford the time or opportunity. I suspect most of us tackled their stuff…after. Did any of you have the time and emotional strength to go through you’re loved one’s things…together?