Packing Up Is a Unique Grieving Ceremony

Chapter 14 from Closing the Final Chapter

People who undertake the packing up process view it in a variety of ways ranging from one of admiration and special reverence, to total disrespect.

While some of this has been discussed in previous chapters, callous phrases such as ‘get in, toss everything out’ or ‘get it over with then get out’ cannot have a place in what can be a special and important acknowledgement, even a sacred one, of the deceased person and their life.

Fortunately, however, most people realise the significance of the event and the role they play in it. The process can in fact, become a unique and personal Grieving Ceremony.

“I felt the packing up process was a privilege and a chance to give love and respect to my Father. To me, it felt like I was keeping him company walking with him on the first part of the next part of his journey. That was very special.”

Descriptive expressions of this complex task can vary greatly, which they certainly did in the research. Often descriptive terms can reflect the character of the person making the comment.

The previous anecdote of ‘walking with their Father’, gives an indication of the sensitivity of the person who wrote the comment. As well it provides others with an opportunity to learn how you can view the packing up with a positive healthy outlook.

Negative descriptions are quite common and can show a person’s lack of empathy or understanding of the subject or the task.

A variety of other reasons can also be the cause of why a person has a negative view. Perhaps they’re frightened or apprehensive and are masking their fears with negative statements.

If you have a negative view of the task, before you begin the task stop for a while and try to change your thinking to a more positive outlook.

When anyone is faced with a negative task, the best way to handle it comfortably (as many motivational speakers suggest to do) is to look for the positives in what you are about to undertake or do. Just as I did the first time I packed up, I changed my thinking, my mindset, which made it much easier. Once I did that it did not take me long to realise what I was about to do was going to be a very special and unique experience, a privilege and an honour.

Changing one’s mindset or thinking, or, as some computer geeks say ‘tweaking’ your thinking, is easier said than done. But speaking from experience with this task, once I had focused on the positive aspects of the role it helped to dramatically reduce my anguish.

That was a powerful moment for me, and it can work for you too.

But you can take the positive attitude a step further, by viewing the actual process of packing up as your private grieving ceremony, as your sacred time.

It matters not if others are involved, it is your time, your space and your memories that really count and by treating it as your own grieving ceremony will aid in your own eventual emotional cleansing and healing.

If you feel apprehensive, are concerned or hold a negative view about the packing up task, the following anecdotes may help to resolve some of your feelings.

“The opportunity to pack up together has given the family we have left, a real closeness. Dad’s death gave us good reason to go back and relive and talk about so many fond memories that we took for granted at the time. We have had many laughs at our expense and some even at Dad’s in a fond way. We laughed a lot, cried a lot, focused on memories and the little things we learnt which we previously knew nothing about. That was our special personal grieving ceremony.”


“There were many hilarious exchanges, which we all know added to the healthy transfer of experiences. Packing up was like our own personal grieving ceremony. At one time grandchildren and other offspring had a dress up parade of mum’s magnificent wardrobe collection, which needed to be dispersed.

“At first I felt uncomfortable at what seemed to show disrespect but had to accede when a 7 year old boy appeared, dressed up in mum’s hat and furs which he obviously thought were the ultimate in dress ups. We all joined in and found it a really cathartic experience.”



One man replied saying, “The process has been enriching, life-changing and difficult. I was very privileged to have been asked by the family to be involved, it’s a very intense intimate and rewarding time.”

One person offered this suggestion: “Have the whole family around once you’ve cleaned up the home and sorted all the possessions. Have a dinner party in the deceased’s house and share some wine, music, laughter, tears, talk about them and above all share your memories, it can be very good for everyone.”



 “I cherished packing up because it really allowed me to grieve and relive the many years of love, caring and just plain good old fashioned family values we shared. I am and was very blessed.”


“I think that packing up is a very personal experience that allows you to connect with the deceased person in a special way. In our case, it was a way of respecting our mother, of thanking her, of telling her that our love for her is ever lasting, and that we will take care of her and her belongings even in her passing.”

No matter how busy we are, packing up a loved one’s possessions is one of those important things to do in life and, it is a mark of respect for the deceased to ensure you do it thoroughly and respectfully, even if it is hard.

Treasure those moments. Treasure the opportunity of packing up for another. You will be enriched by the experience.


  • Packing up is one of the most important tasks in our lives.
  • Packing up is a privilege, do it with love.
  • If you have negative thoughts try to change your thinking.
  • Focus on being more positive.
  • The task is a mark of respect for the deceased.
  • Do the task thoroughly and respectfully, even when it is hard.
  • View the role as your private grieving ceremony, as your sacred time.
  • Having this view will aid in your own eventual emotional cleansing and healing.
  • Treasure the moments as they unfold.

If you found Chapter 14, “Packing Up Is a Unique Grieving Ceremony,” useful of Closing the Final Chapter, you can download and read the entire by clicking here.