The guilt of cleaning out the house.

Follow
Share

I moved my 83 year old mother to a dementia care unit on November 30. To my shock, surprise, and relief, she has adjusted very well. I am now in the process of cleaning out her home of 40 years with plans to rent it out. The money from renting it out plus her pension check will pay for her to continue living in the care unit.


I cannot describe the guilt I'm feeling. I've been throwing things away, taking things to charity, and with every carload I feel worse, worse, and am questioning my decision. I keep telling myself I'm doing the right thing. She was living all alone with progressive cognitive dementia, and now she is being cared for, taking her medicine appropriately, and eating healthy meals, but the guilt keeps growing. I know it doesn't make sense to try and bring her back home, but this is killing me. I just love her so much and I feel terrible dismantling a home she loved. Ugh.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
32

Comments

Show:
1 2 3 4
Oh, how kind of you. Thank you!

I started the year off well. I cleaned out the kitchen and bathroom and made significant progress on the dinning room. I even hired a company to haul away a huge dumpster full of junk from the back yard. In February I hit an emotional wall. I was suddenly struck by the full on knowledge that my mom would not be returning to her house and that paralyzed me. I've really struggled to come to terms with this fact. The good news is that my mom is doing fabulous at the care center. According to her she's in charge, and cleans up, and keeps everyone in line. Lol! I love her main nurse. She goes above and beyond in so many ways and I am incredibly appreciative.

Soooo..... as for the house, I decided to give myself a break and start up again this fall. My original plan was to have it cleaned out by June. Ha! I finally allowed myself to accept that it doesn't have to happen overnight. That said, I really want to get done by the end of the year. I had lunch with a woman last month who shared that her parents passed 5 years ago and she STILL hasn't done a thing at their house! No way I'm going to take that long, but it did make me feel better.

Thanks so much for checking in. I appreciate it. :-)
(3)
Report

TJLANG, just checking back to see how the project is going.

It's been almost one year ago when I emptied out my parents house, and I still have some stuff piled up in one of the rooms in my home. Just dragging my feet getting the items to the donation site. Or maybe part of me just doesn't want to part with those things. I've gotten so lazy.

I drive by my late parents house almost daily as it is the only route out of the subdivision. It seems odd seeing different cars in the driveway. The Buyer has been busy doing major remodeling. I never grew up in that house, so I didn't have a major attachment. But one thing that can't get thrown away are the wonderful memories :)
(3)
Report

And the stuff part - when there is lot it is completely overwhelming. What to do, what to keep, will someone ask about something later - such a responsibility. I had a panic attack over the pressure of it and got some anti-anxiety meds. And I don't take any medicine, but it helped. I kept some things that didn't even make any sense but it's OK for now. It helped that Dad had often said he would like to have an auction. That's what I did in the end. I feel for you. TJ - hugs.
(0)
Report

Oh TJLANG, I can so identify. It's been a year and finally the auction is over and the house is for sale as of 2 months ago. Very difficult decisions as you know logically and financially what to do but those emotions are sooo strong. In my case, oldest of 7, all grew up in the house - it was a safe sanctuary and all Dad and Moms work to make it so. He was a pharmacist, woodsman, woodworker and he created many things in the house. 60 years there and full of stuff from even farther back - WWII guy H- died at 90. Had everything we ever needed and so proud of it. Mom died earlier so it was only him with me caretaker. I guess being oldest - all my memories... and I feel like I am destroying and disrespecting everything they worked for. Feel like I am ending the family, but there is really no family to be there any more. I keep second guessing it. It is still haunting me and in my dreams but I know it is the right thing to do. Such anxiety and hurt. At first I couldn't even move a thing that he had used.
Countrymouse, your comments are so helpful. "What you're feeling is pain. Not guilt. The loss of your mother's home, the anxiety that you are somehow dismissing her history, the sadness that your lovely mother is fading away from your life. These are all painful emotions. " That is right on. Thank you. I want Dad to be there. I want things to be like they were, even taking care of him. It became my life and as some have said you even start to feel like you are them. It is about letting go and acceptance and going on with life. They would want it that way I think. And CM, and love your comment about if you're going through Hell, keep going! Yes. And the other person's comment too that was like it. Thank you!! Keep going!!
(1)
Report

((((((tjlang)))))) I know the feeling well, and I had a lot less to deal with. My dd consoled me with the statement, "Remember mum, the job is finite." It will end. I have found that clearing out trash, as much as possible, helps and gives you more room to deal with the other things. Of course, it is never that simple and in the process you will have to set aside treasures to be kept and useful things to be donated.

Let us know how you get on.
(2)
Report

I feel like I'm slowly moving past the emotion piece. Now I'm stuck on the overwhelmingness of it all. There's ALOT of stuff in this house. 3 full floors and a veranda, a packed garage and a packed shed in the backyard.
(3)
Report

I have to admit one of the deciding factors in selling my childhood home was the thought that, as difficult as the task was, it would be 100 times worse after mom was gone.
(2)
Report

Dear didntknow,

Sorry to hear you are struggling with your parents house right now. It is hard. Please be kind and gentle with yourself. Take as much time as you need. One closet at a time if needed. I'm with you. When I started to donate my father's belongings to the homeless shelter. The emotions would come rushing forward and I would cry while packing his shoes and clothes. Its a difficult decision whether to keep items or even the whole house. Give yourself some time to grieve. Maybe even wait a year before making a decision. I am struggling with the same thing. I don't want to erase my dad's memory by giving away too much or selling the house. But yet the pain is also weighing on me heavily. I just don't know sometimes. Maybe with more time the decision will become clear.
(1)
Report

I'm struggling with my parents house right now. Mom and Dads place, where I spent so much time and moved in to help.   Every drawer, cabinet, closet, is full of memories and things that make the rawness of losing them bubble back up.  I have accomplished little more than donating their clothes.  My brother thinks I should sell my home and keep theirs.  But I'm nervous it would end up a monument to my pain.
(2)
Report

When my grandma moved out of her house we had to sort through 40 years of stuff. We ended up getting a small storage unit ( like this one storagewest/locations/arizona/surprise/) for s short time to store the things that were still in good condition and wanted to give other family members a chance to take. It was hard but it helped doing it together; reminiscing about the past.
(1)
Report

1 2 3 4
This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Related
Questions