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I have never thought of this...

(83 Posts)
Dove Sat 24-Mar-18 22:27:14

Recently I had this discussion with some acquaintances on their parents hoarding behaviour. One of them brought this topic up because she was very worried that she had to clear her mother’s house when the time came. She already had a few arguments with her mother and was very frustrated her mother wasnt willing to bin any of the old, unused stuff, such as magazines and newspapers from the 70s. My initial thought was that she got to respect her mother’s lifestyle and personal space. I would not want anyone to tell me what I should bin or keep and how I should live. I don’t interfere my children’s lifestyle and they shouldn’t interfere mine. However, another acquaintance had a different view. She thought it was selfish and irresponsible to leave a cluttered house for ones children to clear. So when we feel that our clock is ticking we shall clear our house or have some sort of plan and not to burden our children with our stuff.
I must admit that, after some more thinking I realised my initial thought was rather naive and not on the practical side at all. But I also stand by the principle of respect. It feels so tricky. As a adult child I don’t feel it’s right to ask my parents/ inlaw about their plans. But As a mother I would be totally ok if my children raise their concern with me. Could anyone share their experience with me? How did you manage to clear their late parents/ in laws house? Did you find the process healing or frustrating? Did you speak to your parents about that before they passed away? On the other hand anyone has an actual arrangement on what to do with your ‘stuff’? Do you include that in your will? Do you speak to your children about that? Do you spare money just for the clearance purpose ? Please share your thoughts.

Anniebach Sat 24-Mar-18 22:30:26

I have told my younger daughter to hire and skip and just put whatever in it

MissAdventure Sat 24-Mar-18 22:32:28

Same for me. My stuff is only precious or useful to me whilst I'm alive. What happens to it after I'm gone doesn't matter.
Bin the lot, pass on anything which may do someone a turn, but just get rid of it.

Marydoll Sat 24-Mar-18 22:40:12

My mother was a hoarder and refused to allow us to clean or clear up her house. She had been like that since I was a child. In hindsight I realise my mother had mental health problems.
All the Christmas, birthday, Mother's day gifts were all stored in drawers, still in their original wrapping, while she wore old worn out clothes.
It was horrendous when she died, as the local council only gave us a short time to clear out her house.
I must confess to being a bit of a hoarder with clothes, (they may come back into fashion, I may lose weight, etc) shoes (by some miracle I will be able to wear heels again) and crafting materials. However, I am determined my children will not have to face what I had to do, so I am gradually trying to be ruthless.

MissAdventure Sat 24-Mar-18 22:46:26

Its not a very nice process to clear out all the things which made the place 'home' to someone, but you have to be unsentimental and get the job done.

stella1949 Sat 24-Mar-18 22:56:38

I cleared the house after Mum died. She wasn't a hoarder but she certainly had a big house full of "stuff" from all of her life. I never would have dreamed of asking her to get rid of her stuff before she died - that would have been awful, telling an old lady that I didn't want the bother of cleaning up her things, so would she please ditch all her precious belongings. Definitely not ! She was old and frail, and she needed to have her familiar things around her. When she died , all I did was to pick out the few things that my sister and I wanted to keep . We then asked our children if they wanted anything. After that I just disposed of everything else - some to charities and then the rest went into a skip. You can't hang on to it , so the best thing is to put your sentiment aside and do the job.

Elegran Sat 24-Mar-18 23:00:52

The important part of the OP for me is "when we feel that our clock is ticking". When is that? I shall be 80 next year, but I don't hear the clock ticking yet.

My home is my home, clutter included. I do NOT feel like paring it down just in case I kick the bucket tomorrow - on average, someone my age will live another ten years to the age of 90, with one in four going on to 95, and one in ten reaching 100. I have every intention of being among the one in ten, which would give me another twenty years.

M0nica Sat 24-Mar-18 23:08:08

I confess I am a chucker anyway. But I found the unwinding and sorting of my parents house and other relatives I had to deal with both traumatic and therapeutic. As someone who is a compulsive recycler, we were able to make sure as much of our parents belongs were found new uses as possible. Both my sister, mt children and myself took quite a lot of stuff home, items of furniture, china and glass, table and bed linen. A lot went to Charity shops.

Doing it like this I found lots of small treasures. Half a letter my grandfather wrote to my grandmother. He died in 1919 on his way back from WW1 and it is the only tangible sign we have of his existence, no photographs or other belongings,just this one small note that shows a loving husband and father writing home. His job took him away from home a lot and he missed his 'little cherubs' and 'dearest Kate'.

Slowly unpacking and disposing of my parent's life helped DS and I come to terms with our loss and move on to a new normal.

Bathsheba Sat 24-Mar-18 23:22:22

Our house is pretty full of stuff - I am a serial hobbyist and have collected masses of materials for all my hobbies over the years. I do worry about the amount of clearing our DC will have to do, but on the other hand, there should be no particular hurry for them. The house is all paid up, there is money in the bank for funeral expenses etc. So they should be able to do it at their leisure.
I do still worry about it though, but I really don't want to part with all my things yet! We're only in our late 60's and feeling really rather fit and well, with no plans to pop our clogs for another couple of decades at least!

M0nica Sat 24-Mar-18 23:37:21

Who knows how long they will live. Why should we crib and cramp our lives getting rid of things we get pleasure from when we could get pleasure from using them for decades. rememeber longevity is increasing by the year.

When I was a home visitor, I saw a number of elderly people regretting decisions to divest themselves of belongings, even their houses, on the basis they wouldn't live much past 80 to find themselves sailing hale and hearty into their 90s.

Elegran Sat 24-Mar-18 23:38:21

I too have a lot of hobby stuff, fabric, wool, craft materials, and tools and books for various hobbies. If we get rid of all the hobby stuff, how will we spend all the leisure time we will have in those next decades? Watching daytime TV from our rocking chairs while we wait for the grim reaper to call?

Will the children who want us to clear our houses long before we die be willing to keep us entertained and happy 24 hours a day for twenty years once we no longer have all the things that link us to our past and fill our present with activity?

HAZBEEN Sun 25-Mar-18 08:16:17

My parents both went to live in a nursing home before Christmas. We knew they would have to stay there due to their health but my Father would not allow anyone to start clearing the house. He died 2 weeks ago and now the house needs to be cleared and sold. Unfortunately he made my brother promise he would do it alone and my poor brother feels he has to honour this. My Mother is not happy all her stuff is being gone through but has had to accept it. It feels so wrong that I cant help but my Brother is insisting he follows our Fathers wishes and as I was semi estranged from the family for the last few years I have to let him bear this himself.

Chewbacca Sun 25-Mar-18 09:09:22

This is a topical subject for me because I've just finished a huge decluttering in my home. Like others, I had a huge amount of hobby materials stashed around the house; inherited ornaments, glassware and china etc. Before getting rid of anything I no longer wanted to keep, I asked DC to come and take anything they wanted (which was virtually nothing!). Everything left over went to the charity shop last week. I was shocked at how much stuff I'd amassed, some of it rarely, if ever used and I'm really pleased it's gone.

sodapop Sun 25-Mar-18 09:20:38

I had to do this twice and its a very sad process. Our precious things are not always important to others, I agree about the social history aspect though, documents and letters are very interesting.
I don't keep clutter and I've told my children to hire a skip ( not available here in France) or similar and get rid of what they don't want.
My husband is not of the same mind and would keep everything if I did not put my foot down.

Charleygirl Sun 25-Mar-18 09:34:24

My parents died within days of each other- I was an only "child" so it was all left to me. My mother was never a hoarder so it was a very easy process. All paperwork was in one drawer and a couple of trips to the charity shop with their clothes. I was taking all of the furniture from Scotland to London, sell the house, sorted.

I am the opposite, hoarder supreme. I do not keep papers and cards going back years- it is clothes and "useful items". I am trying to sort stuff out now but it will be a long process for me.

littleflo Sun 25-Mar-18 09:58:22

Following the death of three elderly relatives in the last 2 years, we have started to declutter. More importantly we have put our financial records all in one place. We have details of savings and bank accounts, Shares, utility bills, Will and Insurances.

Although clearing the houses was a difficult task, sorting the financial aspect was much harder. It is not just about making life easier for the children, but for each other too. We have several single savings accounts in various Building Societies and did not take much notice of where each other had savings. Our ISAs have to stay in single names but, as our variou Bonds mature, we are making them into joint acccounts.

In addition, my husband has some very valuable camera equipment, so the Insurance and purchase details are in the box too. This will make it easier if they have to be sold.

annodomini Sun 25-Mar-18 10:09:11

DS1 did some de-cluttering for me six months ago and yet I look around me and my heart sinks. He managed to dispose of a lot of books, reminding me that I could get many of them free on my Kindle if I really wanted to re-read them. Which is true, but I don't like the look of those empty shelves. There's unfinished knitting that I will 'get around to' some day and loads of half-used cosmetics and toiletries which I hesitate to dispose of, but have no intention of using. Old bank statements fill drawers yet I know I can access them on line and my shredder is ready and waiting. That's my confession for the day. Am I unique?

jusnoneed Sun 25-Mar-18 10:16:23

My Dad has gradually decluttered his house since my Mum died ten years ago. That said there is still a fair bit of stuff that no one will want, ornaments etc. But he has got rid of bigger items, sold all but one of his motorcycles (one is in a museum) and woodworking machines.
He has put all his paperwork/shares/bank details together in one place with written info of what's what. As various Bonds and savings have matured over the years he has mainly given them to myself and my brother or smaller amounts simply added to his bank account, bought a newer car etc - as he said the interest rates don't make it worth saving at his age.

My OH is a hoarder, the amount of stuff that will have to be cleared when he goes I dread to think about. Even now in his 70's he still starts collecting things .. arrgh.
I have craft stuff but try to clear some of it every once in a while - still too much really lol. But I no longer keep books like I used to, read them and off they go. One advantage of the Kindle. I don't have many ornaments and suchlike, don't like clutter around the house. Photo's I have made Scrapbooks for my lads, but still OH has boxes of old pics.

Grannybags Sun 25-Mar-18 10:23:37

My Mum lived with us for 4 years before she died so we gradually cleared her house while she was still alive which made it less traumatic I think. I still have a box labelled "Mum's Stuff" which I can't bear to get rid of and a box of her old family photos

We are quite a minimalist couple so hardly any ornaments etc. We cleared the loft a few years ago and it is now empty! grin

grannyactivist Sun 25-Mar-18 10:42:12

My parents-in-law recently downsized and moved to live nearby. They have purposely de-cluttered and have ensured that their wills and finances are sorted. The only outstanding thing to do is a POA for health, they have one for finances.
I am immensely grateful for their thoughtfulness, but as both are still working there will be a lot of work-related stuff, much of it highly confidential, that will need to be either shredded or forwarded to the appropriate bodies. I am hoping my father-in-law retires soon so that he deals with this paperwork himself.
The problem my children will have is not so much clutter, but the fact that this is a big house with plenty of storage that caters for lots of people. I have crockery and glassware to host huge numbers, similarly I have huge amounts of bedding and towels - not to mention the furniture.

eazybee Sun 25-Mar-18 10:57:23

I had to clear my parents' house whilst they were still alive, which was awful, as it had to be sold to pay nursing home fees. They were the generation who couldn't spend, due to two world wars, were very thrifty and kept things because they would come in useful. The house was full of possessions from grandparents and uncle and aunt, as well as their own things, and things I had given to my mother for jumble sales over twenty years ago, but were ' too good for someone to buy for sixpence.' It took months and months of weekends to clear, as I am an only child, and lived three hours drive away.
As a result I am not much of a hoarder and my house, garage and shed are fairly clear, but admit to piles of old paperwork and books stashed away in the loft, plus a great many old toys and much hobby equipment belonging to my adult children, who are always going to sort it.
Clear the loft is this summer's project.

rockgran Sun 25-Mar-18 11:19:58

I'll make sure there is enough left in the will for a few skips!

Dove Sun 25-Mar-18 16:47:34

Thank you ladies, I have read all of your comments. Some great advice and some thought provoking stories you shared! smile

Caroline2016 Sun 25-Mar-18 19:51:42

My late Husband was a terrible hoarder , after he died it took me three and a half years , working every day, to clear his stuff , some I was able to sell other items were given away or went to the tip , but , I felt very guilty at getting rid of stuff.
I have written a statement that , when I go , just three items go to a relative and all the rest to a named charity shop

Cold Sun 25-Mar-18 20:41:51

DH's uncle was a terrible hoarder. The cellar of his house was packed with floor to ceiling piles of newspaper, magazines and clothing. After a minor fire in the kitchen the fire service demanded that all the clutter was cleared as the cellar was a fire risk to the whole row of houses.