I think the reason it is so difficult to dispose of a person's things, after they die, is that it requires a kind of God-likeness that we are not up for. We weren't designed for this task. We wade a little ways into the job and grow weary at the unexpected hugeness of it all. And perhaps that is why God allows us to get a little taste of it, dabble in the experience just a little bit, each time a loved one dies – to see that it does indeed take God, in the end, to do the enormous work of the final judgment.
Because in our labors of sorting, thoughts come to us like: what is the value of this? What of this is to be preserved for posterity, what was meaningful in this person's life, what was/is precious stones? what is the chaff? It almost feels to us as humans like to throw away the THINGS, is to throw away the PERSON. So we tremble at such a task, cast something away, and grab it back again.
But, we can take great comfort in that God is the final keeper of the PERSON, even if all of the THINGS are thrown away, including the grave marker (for one buried at sea, for example), and he does this sifting perfectly. He judges with righteous judgment taking in infinite variables: the person's natural "wiring", the circumstances, the time in history, the faith quotient, the IQ, memory loss, the spirit of a person, the degree of the exercise of soul over even the smallest of matters, the plodding, the work, the achievements, the "being" moments of no activity and no achievement at all, the misgivings, the tight places, the complexities, the anxieties, the stagnant moments, the deliberations, the variable body chemistry that pitches and tosses all through puberty and old age, and embryonic fluid – all sorts of immeasurable things about the human soul that we don't even know exist. This is a job for God. He shares the experience with us, by involving us in the sorting task, perhaps ONLY to point out to us the degree of our own staggering while doing it – so that no one will be tempted to accuse, or wag the finger at the final judgment, having had a stab at the task ourselves. We can rest assured, in each case, Nis righteous judgments will be spot right on – lacquered richly with His love.
Back on a practical level, check out our e-Book guide to Preserving and Arranging Your Family Papers.