Mom passed on 04/01/15 and she was a hoarder.

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I just need to write; it makes me feel better.

Got the tearful call at work on Wednesday morning from my 20-year-old daughter "mom, I think your mom is dead." The adrenaline shot. I asked her if she was sure, she said yes (daughter had recently moved in to help and help clean the mess bless her heart). Rushed to the house, only a couple minutes away. She was gone, laying on the sofa in just her depends and a tank top, face dusky blue from hanging down. She had nearly slid off the sofa. Her little dog still sitting on top of her refusing to move. It was horrible. I loved her so, but knew this moment could come at any time with her heart and diabetes and all of her other health problems. She never asked for anything except to leave her stuff alone. The battle over her hoarding had gone on for decades and we had finally come to the point where we had to just love her in her mess, but had to stop coming much because it wasn't just mess, but nasty nasty filth. My brother and I have been cleaning for days just to remove the stinking garbage. My daughter had done a lot but mom would filth things up just as fast as she could try to clean and cleaning is so impossible when the person won't let you throw anything away and you have to wade and climb over everything. We had purged the house every time she had a hospitalization and she would be oh so angry when she would come home to find we had thrown things out. We talked to social workers and her doctor and had been told repeatedly there was nothing we could make her do. Family members who have not been in the trenches with us don't understand that it is going to take eons to get this cleaned up. My own sister started asking for items almost immediately; we haven't even buried her yet for Christ sake. I don't know if we (when I say we I mean myself and my dear brother) will ever find all of her valuables and the items my sister wants (which coincidentally are all of the high-dollar jewelry items or of extremely high sentimental value - just makes me shake my head). I am hoping we can all find a way to share amicably. We try to be sympathetic because she has disabling MS. I am exhausted from cleaning. There are nearly 50 giant hefty bags we have taken out to the driveway so far and that is just trash. The stuff in the house is another thing; every room is filled to the ceiling with stuff. I don't know how we will ever get all of it inventoried for probate; it seems impossible. The house stinks. The first day I found a crockpot on the kitchen floor; she had swept trash away to make a space on the floor to cook a roast or something and it had festered and oozed all across the kitchen floor. She hid it with a pile of plastic bags. The ooze soaked into all of the trash and things on the floor. The smell was so bad, I thought it was her body; I had never been around a body before. After they took her away, I realized it had to be something else and that it what my search turned up. We found she had been stashing soiled adult diapers under the bathroom counters. She had plastic bags full of urine-soaked blankets and towels everywhere; not sure if this is from her dog or her. I miss her terribly. I have no time to grieve. The mess is monumental and my brother and I have burning lungs from the filth (we do use masks). We did take a break for Easter. The dumpster comes tomorrow. We have found she hasn't paid her bills in 2 months. We can't access her accounts yet as my brother has to file with the court as the executor. Everything is a whirlwind. I really don't have much regret because I had tried so many time to clean while she was alive. I knew it was a mental disorder and I was okay with that. She became a hoarder later in life; it wasn't like this when I was a kid and this it the home I grew up in. It is in pretty bad disrepair. At least it is paid off. I brought all of her mail to my house to go through; thousands of pieces and all mixed up. I am trying to determine her debt and find anything of importance that we need. There are bugs in the mail; they look like carpet beetle larvae and now they are in my house. I took a week off from work to get as much done as possible. I can't wait to go back to work. The funeral is Wednesday. It will be sparse; she really didn't have anyone but her small family left. I hope to God that nobody asks me for any items from the house at the funeral or I may say some things I might regret. Her husband died almost 6 years ago and she was supposed to get his retirement account to the tune of 225K. My sister and brother in law were supposed to probate this as executor for my stepdad's estate and never did it. I am angry because mom should have had that money for home repairs and maybe we could have talked her into assisted living. Now that has to be probated to become part of her estate and be probated again. It doesn't seem this will ever end. I just needed to write, thank you


If you can get minimum wage laborer to help bag the trash with an incentive bonus ($50 to $100 out of respect after a couple of days work) after having cleaned the worst of it up (remove valuables) may help a bit. Working alongside them will move the work along faster. As much fresh air as possible (open all the windows) is recommended. Hazmat suits ($20 at home depot or online) would be better. I had to clean a 3 bedroom house littered with urine, cobwebs, feces, etc. Sorry for your pain.
I prayed that the Lord will give you continued strength through this and that you will receive additional help. My heart goes out to you.
Getting the dumpster is a good start.. now you have to be ruthless. toss everything you can;t identify or stand to touch twice. When you get things down to a more manageable state, pull out what you think someone may want into a cleaned out room, and tell them to come and HELP for a day, and see what they want. Then call a reputable auctioneer to cataloge and sell the rest.. just get it gone so you can move on. I am so sorry you had to find your Mom this way, and I know how hard it is. And the paperwork is so awful you will feel like you don;t have time to grieve. And BTW.. check every little box, etc you find. My MIL stuffed cash into old pill containers, you name it! Good luck
I know it hurts to even think about it, but photos to document it might be a good idea. Don't ever look at them again if you don't have to, but if greedy Sis wants to make a stink, you will have it. Use N-95 masks and gloves for whatever you do personally, and realize there are companies that will work with this sort of thing, and estate sale companies as well if you cannot do it all without endangering your health.

Tell people the truth if they ask for stuff - Mom had become a hoarder, but was deemed competent up 'til the end and did not let you hep her with it. Tell them it will take time and Tilex. My hubby's parents were something like this - his Dad was found dead with a ruptured aortic aneurysm for which he had refused surgical repair, and he had not been able to deal with Mom's mental illness, incontinence, hoarding and inability to clean - but she called police on people who tried to help and we did not know what else to do at the time. It was bad, but we ended up finding nearly enough cash to pay for Dad's funeral; Mom lived several more years in gero-psych care then skilled nursing. My cousin lost her mom this way too; she died unexpectedly in a hoarded home after nearly a lifetime of really being very meticulous, and my poor cousin was devastated...but from the conversations we had, she had simply not recognized her mom's advancing dementia and despite prior severe emotional and even some physical abuse had been planning to have her come live with her, as a preliminary extended visit had gone OK. I helped clean some and so did various church friends - but my cousin did a tremendous part of the work herself and essentially reclaimed the house and lives in it herself now, I am very proud of her for that!

Make sure your daughter is emotionally OK and grieving normally, and can debrief with you about the whole thing. It can be devastating for them to see what happens when adults can no longer take care of themselves...and God bless you too as you cope with the aftermath and realize that it was even worse than you thought, but realize you did all that you thought you could do. So sorry it played out this way!
We got a 14 cu yd dumpster and filled it twice. Call in the cousins and ask them to help. In return, give them a memento of some sort, a picture, a teacup, a quilt. We had younger cousins just starting out and they were glad to get pots and pans or silverware. They helped fill the dumpster too.

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