Clothing Woes: Don’t be Too Quick to Empty the Closet

Hello everyone:

Some men rush to immediately give away their deceased wife’s clothing.  Try not to be in too big a hurry here, or you may find that someone who could have really used the clothes has been overlooked. Offer them to your children first; you never know when some jacket or shirt has a special meaning to your kids.

However, do not try to force the clothing on your children; the size or style is probably wrong for them, and you should not do a guilt trip on them for not wanting the clothing.

Make the offer but let the matter drop if they say they don’t want it; it will not bring your spouse back and they are grieving, as well.

After your children have had the chance to look through the clothing or simply say “no thanks,” consider people you know who might appreciate having them. Is there a clothing bank at your church or do you know of a ministry in your community that could use the clothing?

When my aunt died, we offered her clothes to some nearby neighbors who had been nice to my relative. As it turned out, the mother-in-law of one of our neighbors was exactly my aunt’s size.

That woman’s winter coats were pretty much worn out and she had been considering buying new ones. My aunt had several coats and jackets that were in excellent shape (she took good care of her clothes) and we were able to pass them along for the other gal to enjoy. 

It felt wonderful to help someone’s mother, especially since those folks had been so nice to my aunt for many years. The rest of her clothing was a bit dated, so we took it to the local Help Center and got a tax deduction for the donation.

When my mother died, we were able to pass some of her lightweight coats to her best friend, who was a similar size. The rest of the clothes were given to a charity that resells used clothing in order to help support retired teachers. My mother had been a high school English teacher at one time, so we really felt like we were reaching back to help out her kind of folks!

The mantra here is: check things out before you dump things out. It would have been such a waste if we just thrown out her clothing, thinking no one would have any use for those things. The teachers’ group even accepted Mom’s old shoes and purses.


Dr. Sheri

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