I just returned from helping a friend who needed to clear his parents home of fifty years of accumulated things. It was not anything that could be done in two months. When I first flew up, my plans were to stay for a month but I changed my mind.
People do not realize as they live their lives each day that something may or can happen to them tomorrow. We all are guilty of keeping too many things that are not needed in our home. On top of that, may people will not let go of things and rent storage to put them in.
His father was a doctor and had retired. When he did, he bought home everything even the table he used to examine people. He bought home drugs, medical records and anything else that was there. Even the posters that were on his walls. I wonder if it ever occurred to him to just throw away most of the things. We had to contact a group to disposes of medicines the proper way. Now, my friend will have to jump through hoops just trying to do the proper thing about getting rid of the medical records. His dad was not doing well mentally but no one understood that until his mother had a stroke.
His mother sewed. She did brilliant embroidery work and had so many extra supplies from years and years ago. I know because she still had thread on wooden spools. She had boxes and boxes of buttons, old sewing needles, yarn, knitting needles and fabric. You name it and she had it. She loved making pretty things but when her hands started to hurt from arthritis, she had to give it up.
What does keeping all of these things matter? It matters a lot when someone else has to clean it out of a home. One thing is certain, I came home with a new view on how I will leave my home to my children once I am gone. It isn’t fair to expect our children to come behind us to clean up our mess. A mess that we just didn’t take the time to clean up or one that we were not thinking was even there. Sometimes, I feel that people do not realize that when they put a receipt for something in a drawer that unless they are diligent in cleaning out their drawers and closets often, that receipt may be there 30 years later. We found receipts from fifty years ago.
My friend feels overwhelmed. He felt that way while I was there. Before his father died, we had some fun even in the middle of trying to make sense of all that was in the home. Afterward, the fun stopped as he was grieving. Not only was he grieving but he was angry. I understand because that it is one of the first steps of grief. He didn’t understand. When I would try to talk to him about it, he wasn’t interested. It is hard to watch a person grieve knowing that there is nothing anyone can do. That is a journey that a person has to make alone in life. Sure good friends can reach out to them and try to give comfort but in the end, they will have to walk though that time alone. We all do. I have made that journey many times in my life.
In the mean time, his mom is still in a nursing home. They are not treating her well. Since she is in another state where is brother lives, it is hard for him to get there to see her as much as he would like. He worries about her. So, in the middle of grieving for his father, worrying about his mother, not being employed at the time, he still has to clean out this house by himself. He is angry, confused, dazed and dismayed at what to do with everything. He doesn’t have time to sell a lot of things since he needs to be looking for a job. I know what he is going though since I was there. It is like trying to reach the top of a mountain with branches of trees hitting you in the face with every step. My heart goes out to my friend. I would not wish this on anyone.
So, if your home is filled with paperwork that isn’t necessary, get rid of it. If you have old clothes give them away. Thin out the number of dishes you have in your kitchen. When we reach a certain age, we do not entertain like we once did. Do you really need all of those pots and pans in the kitchen? When was the last time you cleaned out your closets, drawers or even the pantry?
Do your family a huge favor and save them from having to clean up after you when you are gone. We never know when that day will come. I plan to start with my project of cleaning out my home this week. I would not like to think of my children here in my home being unhappy when if I had planned like I should have, they would have little to do. Burying your parents is bad enough.