Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

In Defense of My Hoarding

Sunday, July 14, 2013
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Last week, Diana posted the most eloquent essay about looking in the Rearview Mirror and being proud of what we’ve accomplished. Her reminder was just what I needed at the time, because in the back of my mind I’ve been bogged down by something. What bothers me is all the excess stuff in my house and the fact that I haven’t gotten rid of it. By this I mostly mean his stuff. The golf clubs. The tools. The gas grill I never use. All the clothes left behind when, totally out of the blue, he dropped dead from a ruptured aneurysm. To be quite honest, I’m embarrassed to even write about this and considered using a pseudonym. Because if people knew what all was in that closet (the one that used to be his closet) and piled throughout the spare bedroom and garage, they’d likely sign me up for that Hoarder show. Or maybe they’d call Dr. Phil, who’d grimace and throw his hands in the air before insisting rather rudely that I rid the house of my dead husband’s things.

It’s not as if I’m wavering about what to keep (messenger bag, important papers and leather jacket) and what to discard (clothes, tools and assorted man-crap). I’ve had four and three-quarter years to think about it. And I have a sensible plan in place -- clean out said closet, sort thru clothes, give favorite shirts to quilt lady, box up remaining items, combine with effects already removed from dresser drawers and other hiding places, and call a reputable charity for pick-up.

I don’t know why I’ve put this off for so long. I feel neither stuck in my grief nor emotionally attached to these things. It’s possible that the clothes in particular have just been “out of sight, out of mind,” what with the closet doors always closed and access further blocked by the dog’s bed. It’s so easy for me to avoid, especially in summer. Do I really want to spend a beautiful Saturday sorting through all this stuff? No, I do not. Maybe I’ll wait till winter. Except that’s what I said last year.

In my defense, I work a lot. Like you, I have a multitude of responsibilities and not a lot of free time. Big projects like this seem daunting. And the rest of the house is put together nicely such that nobody would suspect my husband’s belongings are still around, hiding. It’s also possible that there’s more to my avoidance. I won’t know for sure until I dig in. And now’s as good a time as any. As I recently told my stepkids, I really need to start sorting and purging. Their dad’s belongings have become an albatross that I need to get off my back. They in turn volunteered to assist with this unpleasant drudgery. Don’t worry, they said, we’ll help you. We’ll do it together.

It’s ironic that when my husband was alive, he was actually the hoarder of the household. Me, not so much; I was the purger. It always took an extra nudge and some negotiating for him let go of anything. I’d typically end up sorting through and donating his old stuff myself. But it’s different now that he’s gone. It feels more arduous, and somehow irrevocable. Still, it’s something we all must do as we move forward on this journey.


Oh I can relate to this perfectly!!!

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