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Longtime lurker here, but this is my first post. My 97 year old great grandmother recently passed away, and now the family is faced with the monumental task of cleaning out her large home. She grew up during the depression, so we're going to run into things like 25 mops in the basement, collections of paper clips, rubber bands, and piles of scrap paper, not to mention 97 years' worth of one woman's belongings (linens, dishes, books). My question: has anyone had to do this before? Any suggestions on ways to organize the process? (One room at a time, sorting into designated piles, etc.) I wasn't very close to her, but I want to do what I can to make this easier on my mom, aunts, and grandmother, and organizing is one of my strengths. Thanks!
 

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my ILs have done this with three houses in three years. It takes a lot of work.<br><br>
we did a room-by-room process of decluttering. we tossed what had to be tossed (what was trash), we gave away or rummage-saled what could be rummaged, we took what we wanted for ourselves of course, and then the rest was organized for the auctioneer.<br><br>
practical stuff:<br><br>
1. order a dumpster. it can be kept in the driveway until it's full, and then it will be hauled away.<br><br>
2. talk to the auctioneer about how she/he wants things handled. the auctioneer that my ILs work with likes to make 'grab bag' boxes. so, we could label a box "box of books" and then the auctioneer would auction it as "unknown collection of books." we had similar things with old trunks (he said to fill old trunks with various junk--things that didn't seem to have a lot of value but were attractive or in good condition--and then he'd auction them as 'unknown filled trunk').<br><br>
3. start with the garage, basement or attic. the reason for this is that it gives you a space for rummage-sale items to be taken to the donation spots. contact local churches and private schools--they often hold rummage sales and may also pick up the items for you. But, until the pick up, you need a place to put rummage-sale items and the garage, basement, and attic are good places to have once you 'dive in' to the stuff in the house.<br><br>
Good luck, and i'm also sorry for your loss!
 

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I don't have any organizational advice for you, but <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"><br><br>
When my great-grandmother died, my great-aunt was left with the task of going through her house and clearing out. There really wasn't much, though. She lived a relatively frugal life. Unfortunately, my great-aunt saved almost nothing. She did, however, keep her old, iron bedstead, and now, my son and I sleep in it every night. It has a wonderfully satisfying creak when you move around, and it's so cool to think that my son is sleeping in his great-great-grandmother's bed!<br><br>
Have you asked around the family to make sure that the things that most remind people of her are saved for them?
 

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I cleaned out my parents' home a few years ago. Here's some ideas for how to approach this huge task.<br><br>
1. Get a dumpster<br><br>
2. Clear out a "staging area" such as the garage or basement for things that are on their way somewhere else.<br><br>
3. Go through room by room and toss anything that is obviously trash (rubber bands, newspapers, whatever). It might be easiest if you were the one to do this, since it sounds like you have a little more emotional "distance" than the other family members who might have trouble parting with, say, great-gma's rubber band ball or tin foil collection.<br><br>
4. Have all family members go through and claim whatever they want to keep. Ideally, they can move these items out of the house immediately. If not, these items should go to the staging area, hopefully marked to identify their final destination. We were able to arrange with one moving company to come at one time and pack up shipments to both me and my brother in different cities.<br><br>
5. Decide how to handle what's left (items of potential value or usefulness that no family members want). We hired an estate sale company. They had us leave all this stuff essentially where it was and did a little "merchandising." If the house is disorganized you should at least get stuff to a logical place- all the kitchen stuff in the kitchen, etc.<br><br>
6. After the estate sale, auction, or garage sale, figure out what to do with what's left. In our case, the estate sale company took valuable items that didn't sell to their warehouse and sold them over the ensuing months. We donated everything that was useful but not particularly valuable- you can arrange for a charity to pick items up. You may need to get creative with anything unusual- my dad had a huge collection of history books that we ended up donating to the college library where he taught. My mom had a valuable doll collection that she sold off to other collectors she knew.<br><br>
Remarkably, I was able to do my part of this in about a week, with an 11-month-old in tow! Although I am sure my parents had accumulated less stuff than your great gma!
 

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for book pricies, <a href="http://www.abebooks.com" target="_blank">www.abebooks.com</a><br><br>
save all family photos, old letters, envelopes, papers, etc in case there is a genealogist in the family.<br><br>
if there is jewelry, china, silver, pearls have it evaluated to see what is "real"<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br><br>
flip through books real quick to search for hidden paper items/photos.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SleeplessMommy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6487112"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">flip through books real quick to search for hidden paper items/photos.</div>
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Wow - good idea! I'll keep that in mind for when I'm faced with the task....
 

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Let the rest of the family members know, preferably by mail, that if they want anything memmorable they need to come and get it by such a date. That way you don't end up storing something they want until they find room for it. Also by mail you have proof you set a date.<br><br>
Get a dumpster and a shredder machine to get rid of personal information. Because people will go through the dumpster.<br><br>
Clean out two rooms right away. One can be assigned stuff to sell, the other can be donate or used as a second storage place. Maybe tackle one room every Saturday or something like that so it doesn't get too stressful.<br><br>
Don't be afraid to throw stuff.
 
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