The emotional impact of sorting through the personal belongings of someone you've loved after they've died is not to be underestimated. The abundance of memory and association spurred by a trigger can be a rollercoaster-like journey. A few small things, representative of a lifetime. Dead, and empty of meaning without those precious memories.
"Memory of a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are,
the things you never want to lose."
The Wonder Years
We are all so much more than our possessions. This is never so true as when confronted by this unenviable situation. Yet those tangible objects that belonged the person we loved and who is now gone can be so valuable in helping us to retain a connection to our memories. Gone, but not forgotten.
Disasters that wipe away these objects can feel as catastrophic as the loss of someone whose smile we knew, and whose voice we heard so often. Having a third party intervene and interfere can feel just as intrusive, and somehow even more unjust. They will never know or truly understand what this or that meant - they weren't there, and they didn't feel. Our memories are like certificates of authenticity, and cannot be so easily erased. Perhaps it is these that are the real keepsakes.
"Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume."
Jean de Bouffleurs