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I have not been on here for awhile...but I wanted to share something with you all. I have had my father in NH for almost 3 years. I have been dreading/ procrastinating the house cleanout, but the time had come! 5 people 17 long days 50 yards worth of dumpsters, and 8 days of garage sales......80+ years of accumulation.....every calendar, every scrap of clothing, everything imaginable...nothing was thrown away.


I just want to say I feel for you all that are going through the same thing...children of the depression where just plain and simple hoarders! Mine were organized hoarders, who never offered to share things with family....seems kind of sad that some of these things were not offered up or put to good use instead of pack ratted away.


In hindsight, I wish I had not put it off, and just tackled one room at a time....but I am so glad it is almost done!

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Welcome back, Mincemeat :)

Oh good heavens, the chore of clearing out the old homestead of "stuff" [as George Carlin would call it]. At first I thought my parent's house would be easy, nope it was the opposite. Lot of file drawers and a ton of 3-ring binders to go through. Lot of photos to gather up. Then the issue of what to keep, what to donate, what to toss.

Then I had to tackle my Dad's workshop. I did hire someone to help me, as Dad would keep stuff up in the ceiling like drain pipes, lumber, fencing, you name it... the basement look like an annex of Home Depot.

I won't go into the water leak in the basement every time it rained... lost a lot of sleep over that !!

It's been over year since the house sold, and my family room still has the hoarder decor. I just need to get myself into gear and donate that stuff. But I am still trying to find my energy :(
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I found it heartbreaking to clean out our family home after Dad died. He was 90- WWII/depression - saved everything as many here have described. I can so relate to your stories.

Same as others, he was organized and took great care of everything. 100 years of stuff - great grandfather's hunting and fishing gear, furniture, cookware, jewelry, his things from childhood, old personal items and so many pictures. Old newspaper clippings from the War, saved by his grandmother. The whole family history really. He had such respect for his family and their things. And was so proud that he always had whatever item you needed.
Also he was a woodworker. His shop was full of wood and tools and the house was full of his creations.

It all made me deeply sad as I respected all that stuff and those values too. To get rid of it seemed like dismantling the whole family. And it seemed like his spirit was there, sometimes in the most trivial items. I couldn't do it at all for about a year. It was hard to let go. But even harder to think of maintaining all that stuff.

In the end some things were kept and distributed between family members, we gave some things to charity and we had a big auction with the rest. Everything sold.

It is a great relief to have it over with. But I'm still coming to terms with it many months later. I wrote a goodbye letter to the house - it is for sale now. I can't watch that auction show on TV. And I have been going through my own things - cleaning out closets, etc. The picture project is coming - digital will happen! I resolve to spare others from these tasks, as much as possible!
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I just read a wonderful article about dostadning, Swedish for death cleaning. In Sweden, beginning around age 65, adults start decluttering their homes yearly so as to not burden their children (imagine that!), and at a minimum the kids only have to sort through the most beloved items. Efficient and thoughtful.

I am decluttering prior to my father’s passing. Things he never uses (or even had an idea existed in the home) like sticky tupperware, jewelry, cds (“who needs new technology when radios work just fine” direct quote from dad : )

On the other hand, I’ve discovered letters from the 1800s and the hospital receipt from when I was born $1500 (what a bargain.)
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Yes, the thing that does touch your heart strings is the correspondence. People wrote scads of LETTERS! Spending a day sorting through letters is a huge time "taker", but a really cool journey through lives that can soften your heart and put relationships in a different perspective.

My mother kept lots of stuff from her aunts and parents and in laws. For all of you...have faith, drink lots of coffee...and have a little fun while you wade through the project.

I came away with....why would anyone do this to the next generation?...just way to much junk and stuff!!! Keep and pass on the best and throw and donate the rest!
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Mincemeat, thank you for your word of support and many congrats to you!!!! You almost made it!!
If one hasn't been there, it's hard to believe how hard this job is; physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining.

I'm currently clearing up 2 big houses at once. I don't have any help, so I'm doing it alone.
As you say, it's 80+ years of keeping literally everything that was ever bought, borrowed, given to, touched... even longer than 80 years cause I'm finding stuff belonging to my grandparents that my dad had kept so I guess we are talking of 100+ years (gasp). The amount of unusable and unimaginable things I found it's just mindblowing. But also things totally unexpected, that make you stop and shake your head in disbelief; sometimes smiling, sometimes crying.

I have started at the beginning of September and I'm still just scratching the surface, but yes, I'm definitely doing the room by room thing, one room at a time.
I have set 5 consecutive hours per week and I feel this is the best way for me. I know it doesn't seem much but I feel more productive and I work faster if I know it's just that time.

Before starting I found a great post by GardenArtist here on this forum (which is the reason I found you!) and it really saved me. For anyone going through this, is the Top Answer in this post: https://www.agingcare.com/questions/talk-with-mom-about-clearing-out-house-430106.htm

I especially found useful her tips n.4 and n.6. They've been life savers for me.

Hugging you all.
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chdittir - most of my parents photos were taken by my middle brother, who is a complete computer geek. He scan all the photos and then loaded them onto flash drives for me and our other brother.

Just a thought - if there is someone in your family willing to do it - it can be time consuming. But that way everyone gets a copy.
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My situation isn't nearly so bad. My parents downsized when they moved into my MIL apartment 17 years ago, and there was more downsizing that happened when I moved here full time 4 years ago (the rest of the house was used as a family vacation place). But now that Mom is going to AL we now have to do additional work - and now it is so tough for Mom to make any decisions so it will be up to us kids to do most of it. We are meeting in 3 weeks to do a preliminary walk-through and come up with a strategy. The hardest thing will be the boxes and albums and files of photographs and memorabilia.
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When it came time to clean out my parents house to ready it for sale - my brothers and their families ever so generously gave me one weekend. My parents had lived in that house over 50 years. Mom was hit hard by The Great Depression- so yeah, nothing was thrown out. “Use it up, make it do, do without”. Heard it 1000 times!

Through a connection we got a construction site size dumpster cheap - I never dreamed we’d make a dent in it - let alone almost fill it.

I felt bad - tossing so many things but then three different men, in three different pick-up trucks showed up and asked if they could go through the dumpster. It was kinda weird - but in the long run I was glad someone was gonna do something will all that stuff.

Just yesterday I went through several drawers and cupboards and filled a large flexi garbage bag with stuff I will never use, is expired, or is completely useless. What was I thinking when I stashed those things? Likely it was my mothers voice saying “don’t throw that away - it could be used for something”.

I swore when we moved here eight years ago I wouldn’t save a bunch of crap - like I had in my old house - only to have to toss it when we moved here.

Old habits die hard, I guess.
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Yay! We don't have near that amount of STUFF, but my FIL just passed away (after living with us for 13 years, and he was housing at least 12 legal size boxes of 1-40 old Ppwk in one bedrooms closet, that was unnecessarily to hold onto, and all had to be shredded, due to the personal information on it, many of which were so old they held SS#'s.

Other than that, so many brand new beautiful clothes, which he was putting off wearing until that Special Moment, Lol! And I won't need to purchase cleaning products, sponges, TP, or Paper Towels for quite some time, Lol! Slowly and bit by bit, it's all disappearing, and we will soon be down to picture albums, family memorabilia, jewelry, and guns, all these too will slowly be given to family members, accept for only a couple of boxes my husband wishes to keep.

There's still an old trunk full of old family "skeletons", up in our garden shed, but that will be up to my husband to decide what to do with. I'm so over housing another person's belongings, I want my house back!

Good for you for getting it Almost done, we're right behind you! It's a great feeling!
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Wow! I cleaned out my grandparents' house they'd owned since the 1950s a bit at a time over 6 years... but I'm STILL doing it. There are a dozen or so boxes of china tchotchkes sitting at old house still that I want to go through and take a few things, let a charity place take the rest. It's a huge job. Congratulations on getting through it. It doesn't matter how it's done, I don't think so. It's a big thing and something many caregiver-decedents deal with.

I agree with "putting things to use." It's something I want to be mindful of in my own life now and going forward.
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Wow!!! That will such a weight lifted when it is done.
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Well done!!! I don't know if there is a better or worse way to do it. It can be a overwhelming job. So glad you are nearly done. ((((((hugs)))))
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