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clearing out the family home

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Old 04-07-2007, 04:32 AM   #1
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zonk HB User
clearing out the family home

feeling very tired and emotional
my parents were both hoarders (as I suspected)
today I managed to deal with mums and dads personal stuff, I threw away their passports, glasses, jewellery etc etc
clothing to charity.
t/row I have to negotiate with my brother over furniture, paintings, ornaments etc
I found and read mum`s diaries from the first time I took her to the neurologist up until and after dads death
not feeling so lucky today. :-(

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Old 04-07-2007, 04:40 AM   #2
Martha H
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Re: clearing out the family home

That is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do. When it's done there will be a sense of closure - "now it's over."

If you don't feel up to it, can you put off the house clearing until a month or two later? It is a very painful thing.

I cleared out Mom's things before she went to live with Bill and I moved to Indiana ... there was no room in Bill's house for much of her furniture, so all of that went (much to a family of new immigrants in the neighborhood) except a bed, 2 dressers, and a china closet. I also sorted out her clothes, gave many away, threw many out, since there were things in Mom's closet which were stained, too big (she had shrunk), or too shabby to wear.

Some things were and stayed missing - the German Christmas tree ornaments she had carefully transported here from Germany in 1926. I have no idea whether she gave them away or threw them out, perhaps along with a tree, after she became ''confused."

It is a daunting task. It might be good for you to get it over with once and for all ...



Old 04-07-2007, 09:20 AM   #3
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Re: clearing out the family home'll get thru'll learn a lot about your parents, and perhaps even be surprised in some ways...but you WILL get thru it!

Three of my siblings and I lived close enough to Mom's 5-bedroom house (and basement...and garage...and big barn!) that the responsibility of "cleaning house" became ours! (Two siblings live far away.) took almost a year of Saturday workshops to sort, dispose, and clean up our family homestead. Sometimes tempers flared...other times we found ourselves laughing out of control at how much Mom had stored away! We even looked up a website about "hoarding" and realized the challenges each of us were apt to give our OWN children! This hoarding business can be a learned trait passed down to children! Argh!!

Since our Mother was still alive in an Alzhiemer's facility, we decided to store the antique furniture and items that we knew should be saved...then held an "estate sale" to dispose of the rest. I remember long-time neighbors stopping by because they wanted to see all six of us...and sharing some good memories. There were still items left that were donated.

After several months of paying storage out of $$ made at the sale, I suggested simply going ahead and dividing everything up...or each of us paying toward the bill, since what had been saved was not for Mom's benefit, but ours. It took another year for this to become my BROTHER"S idea...then we did it. Unfortunately, tempers flared, and the division in my family among some members has been difficult.

I've been looking at my own closets and collections in a whole different manner now! Never would I want to put my own children thru this experience!..........Pam

Last edited by petal*pusher; 04-07-2007 at 09:22 AM.

Old 04-07-2007, 04:50 PM   #4
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Re: clearing out the family home

I live in my dad's house. He is several hundred miles away with my sister. I need to go through his bedroom as he, too was a pack rat. My sister and I went through the garage and cleared that out several years ago. My dad left here almost 3 years ago and I'm still just doing a little at a time although not much here lately I must admit.

Really all I need to do is sift through the PILES of mail in his bedroom. That won't be too hard because all of it is at least 3 years old. Most of my furniture is in storage. As things have been breaking/wearing out, I've been replacing it with my furniture. WHen my dad goes, my sister will take whatever she wants. I won't argue over anything, not even the house that I've been taking care of these past few years and even before.

I went through that stage of transition. That's what you're experiencing now, Zonk. Everyone is different but what really helped me is being able to do this thing slowly. If I had to do it as fast as you are, I don't know if I would have been able to handle it. When I work on getting rid of things, I'm ok for a while. Then the tears flow. Then I allow myself some time to grieve. And then I start all over again. At least I can do it in stages.

I know this is really heartbreaking. You will get through this and as hard as it seems right now, you will feel relief once it's done and you won't have to worry about having to do it anymore.

Love and big hugs,

Live, Love, Laugh.

Old 04-08-2007, 04:45 AM   #5
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Re: clearing out the family home

Martha, I had been putting this off for some time,beacause it is daunting but my mantra has become "just do what needs to be done even if you dont want to" eg..placing mum permantely (sp)but I figured since it was easter hols and I had 4 days off work I could start doing it
I had already put off since mid jan (when mum went into permanent care)
I also threw away dads birthday cards and wedding anniversary cards to mum...I am a tough cookie,but I am the opposite of a hoarder, constantly feeling the need to clean out my cupboards.
Pam, there is only me and my brother, and we have never got along, so I empathise with your experience. My brother and I have decided to divide up the furniture equitably, but honestly I really dont want a lot of stuff
but I figure it will take at least six months of visits (weekly) to mums home to sort it all out.....ornaments, paintings, least 25 or so,books,photo albums, drawers and drawers filled with paperwork, silver cutlery,multitutes of crystal ware,clocks, need I go on?
I too, would never inflict this on my children...but dad could never forcast his brain tumour or mum her AD and realise the impact on their children regarding dividing their is what it is.
thankyou for your kind support
your dad has mail 3 years old, not trying to compete but my parents have still got tax returns from the 1970`s
I am the sister coming into the family home and taking whatever I want (although I havent)
my brother lived with my parents practically his whole life
I felt VERY uncomfortable today saying I want this furniture and that furniture and I told my brother so
he is keeping the 3/4 of the household furniture
and I really dont care ...see my new post(maybe tomorrow) as to why...god I HATE bickering over stuff that might "be worth something"
but as my current mantra is "do what you have to do"
the worst is yet to come....
still my worst day ever was moving mum into permanent care
this is easier than my father dying of an inoperable brain tumour
this is easier than the day my mum was diagnosed with AD
its a walk in the park, comparitively (sp)
Warm regards,

Old 05-23-2007, 05:01 PM   #6
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Re: clearing out the family home

When I cleaned out my mom's stuff I only had 3 days till it was going to be rented out. She only lived in an apartment by the time we found out but somehow my other 3 siblings found a way to make it my problem. I found things like cards that she got the year her mom died in 1954 and taxes that her dad filed who died in 1977. She was just like yalls parents, a pack rat! It was hard to decide what to keep and what to toss. Presently it's even harder when she askes me on a day to day bases where this or that is and when I answer her she cries that I've taken everything away. I kept her bedroom set and clothes that I felt she could easily put on. I even kept a few of her sitting chairs and angels to make her room 'hers'.
I read a lot of her diary's and things that she wrote. I discovered that she wrote every conversation down since 2004 that she had with anyone. She had pages and books, papers, envelopes covered in conversations. I kind of wish I had found all of this stuff back when, but I suppose life happens for a reason. Honestly cleaning out her stuff wasn't as hard as when my dad died and I cleaned out his house.
I wish though I could have taken a day to day time to clean out her's. Between trying to get her in care (before she lived in my house), the doctors giving us the news, and my brothers fighting over everything I was a wreck! I finally decided even though my mom wasn't in a great mind that I would ask her. She didn't remember half of what she had at the time but for about 20 min I was able to walk her through the apartment and let her tell me who gets what. Then when my brothers came to pick up there stuff (that was the only time they came) I had it named out for them. I didn't care if I didn't get anything. I have enough in my house as it was.

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Old 05-24-2007, 05:42 AM   #7
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Re: clearing out the family home

Hi everyone,
Since dad died in january and mom is living with my brothers, alternating months (she has alzheimer's), me and my brothers are cleaning out the house on weekends - my dad had three big sheds in his yard with tons of stuff that rotted from rain and rust and he collected stuff over 30 years of his retirement and you cannot believe the junk we threw out so far, and there is more to go. He would go on hunts every night and pick up coffee that the distributor would trash because a box was crushed, or knick knacks and glasses - there are tons and tons in the basement. For some reason I love going to the house and dread when we will have to sell it - right now mom goes there every week to see it and we are leaving her stuff as is. But the garbage is going to takes months to clear out. Dad also collected stamps and we found binders and binders all over the basement, old baseball cards, coins all over the place, never ending. It will take time but again, I don't know how we can sell the house without feeling empty and sad.

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Old 05-24-2007, 07:21 AM   #8
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Re: clearing out the family home

All I can say is try to be fair when dividing up stuff. When my Grandmother went to the NH and her apartment had to be cleaned out my Mother did it on a "pecking order system".

My sister, who had NO relationship with my Grandmother got first dibs (she took a few brand new things, nothing sentimental).

I got second dibs. And had a little tiff with Mom over the fact that my brother (my Grandmother and him were best buds) was not to be given any choice if he wanted anything. She was really annoyed when I asked my brother what I could get for him. She resented B and GM's close relationship.

Being mean during this trying time is the worst, and leaves long term hard feelings.

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Old 05-27-2007, 01:38 PM   #9
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Re: clearing out the family home

I found this so difficult to do,
mum had hoarded and saved everything that could possibly be recylcled, her 2 bedroom unit was stacked high with junk in every room with a little path through it. She has not let me inside for several years so I was so shocked to see it. i will spare you all the details as I have written them in other posts.

I just did as much as I could face each day, I paid the landlord 2 weeks more rent to get through it all. Some days I just cried my way through it, other days I laughed and then cried. It was a really distressing experience. Ifelt so ashamed.
I have found out since them that my mums Dad used to own a second hand junk shop. So that upbringing plus the war years experiences of rationing etc probably played a part.

One of the good things is I heard similar stories from other people, many whose parents did not have alzheimers, and that was comforting.

Just do whatever you need to do to look after yourself and get through this part of it. Don't worry one bit about what other peopel think. if you need to have a good cry some days then have a cry.

My thoughts and are with those of you doing the packing up. take care of yourselves.

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