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In July we are going to auction off my childhood home of 40+ years. My dad died 3 years ago, and my mom just moved to assisted living. We have to go the auction route bc the house is FULL of 'stuff' to put it politely. My dad's clothes are all still there...uh...crying as I write this...I live 1200 miles away and have tried to clean out every visit, but this will be a one-week visit gauntlet from Hell for me where it HAS to be done and there will be NO going back. I LITERALLY don't know how I am going to get through this. This is worse than when my dad died, which sounds awful. It is SUCH a beautiful house, with beautiful woodwork and in the country...I don't know how I will ever drive away from that house for the *LAST* time. I plan on bringing my mom to see it for the last time - any tips there? We have a garage in another place in which to store stuff - should we just put what she wants to keep there until she dies? My mom is still, for the most part, 'with it', but thinks in a child-like, unrealistic way, which I see here a lot.


Every time I even THINK of it, I have a meltdown. It doesn't help that I have no husband or boyfriend and my sister and I don't really get along and she HATES that house (? I have no idea why) I am trying to mentally prepare myself, but I love that house so so much...every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every birthday, every 'meet the new boyfriend' every 'I need to go home' And NOW of all times...
Any kind words of advice would be appreciated. This forum has been SO helpful to me.

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This sounds absolutely wrenching. But the house isn't your memories. The house isn't your childhood and young adulthood. Those are still yours.

I used to work for a storage place and I cannot tell you how many tens of thousands of dollars families spend keeping stuff for sentimental reasons. Stuff will weigh you down. Stuff isn't what gives you the comfort and the pleasure. It's the memories. No one can take those from you. They are yours.

A new family will own and love that house and make their own cherished memories. A man named Viktor Frankl said that everything can be taken from you except your right to choose how you are going to handle a situation. Choose to be grateful for your loving memories and choose to be generous in releasing the home to a new family.

Like all "graduations", this is bittersweet. I wish you comfort.
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Daughterof1930 Jun 12, 2020
Beautifully said Alice...
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if I were you I would photograph each room with all its details including the cellar & attic & outside—that way you can still remember as you look at the pictures all the enjoyment you experienced there all those years. Houses & furniture etc are just ‘things’ & they can’t bring back the happiness you had growing up there; but if you had pictures of everything you can always reminisce about what a great time when everyone was there & how much you loved this & that about the house & growing up there. Just keep maybe one or two really treasured items & you’ll have photos of the rest to remember. Hope this helps—I’m in my 80s & photos bring me so much joy—I can go back to my childhood anytime I choose & enjoy the memories.
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Debster Jun 16, 2020
It's nice to hear from someone in their 80's ! Your comments are valuable and help us 'younger ones' put things in perspective. Bless you for many more years!
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Take a leaf out of KonMari's book: find a quiet moment to greet the house & thank it for serving you. Thank it to show graditude & for the wonderful memories. Then wish it well as it goes onto it's next chapter to find the next family to love it. The memories will continue to live within you.
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It is time to move on. Have your Mom (and you) select a few pieces to take with you and give the rest away. Salvation Army, Good will, church groups. Before you go back there arrange where it will go. (At 97 my Mom realized she should not be living alone out in the country with no help around. She came to live with me 1800 miles away. I had a few of her things - bedroom set, sofa, clothes, etc. moved across country so she would have familiar things with her in her new home. We were blessed to have almost 7 years - She passed last year 1 month short of 104). When I went to move her out here I arranged the sale of her car before I left, decided what furniture to bring, arranged for a "partial load" mover. She had gotten rid of a lot of old paperwork, clothes, etc. and we donated more after I got there. Flew in on Monda, did legal/bank stuff Tuesday, separated keep/donate Wednesday and got rid of donate, movers came Thursday and loaded keep items, (people from area kept coming in and out ) Went and had lunch at a local place we both liked. Flew home with Mom on Friday. As we were leaving I was taking last look at house (not my childhood home, but hers for 32 years) and looked to see if she was doing OK. She was not looking at house, did not have look of dread or unhappiness on her face - she was looking straight forward down the road to her new life in CA. That day I learned to do the same. Remember the past - but dont look that way - you are not going there. Keep looking forward.
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AlcyoneSong Jun 16, 2020
What an awesome attitude! That's it!
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I'm so sorry you are going through such a traumatic event. Please try to remember that 'things' are really meaningless, in the scheme of life. It's people that have meaning, and that you love and care about, and that is where the memories come from that you hold inside of your heart. The 'stuff' is just stuff, the house is just brick & mortar, and it will wind up being owned by another family who will love it and care for it as you have. The memories you have of that house can never be erased just because it's being auctioned off. They will remain in your heart and part of you forever.

Look into hiring someone locally to help you move things out and into the garage you plan to use for storage. You can rent a UHaul or a small truck for very little money, and then hire someone with strength to do the heavy lifting for you. Have a talk with yourself that you will NOT have any meltdowns during this move out because that will just create a bad scene for your mother who is already acting child-like. Creating a dramatic situation will help neither of you get through this! Plan to pick and choose items from the house that mean the most to you both; ask the question 'does this item bring me joy?' and that will determine what you keep. That's a tip from Marie Kondo, the queen of de-cluttering your life and organizing it. Pre-determine how many boxes you will bring with you to the garage so there's nothing do decide on last minute. When you line your ducks up beforehand, there's less stress in general to deal with the day of.

Wishing you the very best of luck getting through this event. You CAN do it! You are strong like bull! You and mom will come through this will flying colors and be able to lean on one another for support and strength. Feed yourself these types of positive messages moving forward, and plan to stop by a patio restaurant for lunch or dinner and DRINKS after it's all over.

GOOD LUCK!
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I am sorry you have to lose your childhood home. It is much more than just a home. It's all the memories of the life you spent in that place.

If I were you, I'd would slowly walk through every room in the house and make a recording of, as you narrate, the most precious memories of things and events that took place there, and do the same for the outside of the house, the yard, any nice neighbors that you want to remember, etc. Whenever you feel nostalgic and want to revisit your old childhood home, you can look back at the recording and relive the good times.
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graygrammie Jun 16, 2020
Yes, this is very close to what I was going to answer.

My friend just went through this with her childhood home. Her father passed fifteen years ago, her mother with dementia lives with her. My friend had the responsibility of getting the house ready for sale. She took her mom to the house for one last visit. She walked her through each room and asked her to tell her memories about the room as she recorded it all with her phone. Oh the stories her mom told! Her memories were as clear as if they had just happened yesterday. Even though I've never met this woman, I watched every video (15 minutes segments) that my friend posted and got a glimpse, not of the lady she is today, but of a young mom raising her family thirty years ago.

If you could do this, I think this would be the most precious keepsake you could possibly have of your childhood home. Your mom's voice, your mom's stories.
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Besides the good advice given so far, I'd like to offer a different perspective.

It's just TOO EMOTIONAL for you right now to approach this mammoth project, and you WILL make errors that you will regret later. Believe me. I'm still recovering from that.

First, another issue: is the home is otherwise good condition? Are you auctioning the contents or the home, or both? If the home, stop right now! Find a realtor with whom you're comfortable, and let that person help you. Realtors often know of good auctioneers, people to help with asset disposition and other close-out issues.

Second, your post is traumatic and emotional, expressing your own trauma at having to do this. Do you have the funds to keep the house over the summer? If so, if you're not working or working from home, consider spending more than a week there with specific goals, as opposed to the whole house.

Third, start with a list of the least memorable things, and work through to the harder items, which will help you acclimate to disposition easier than if you approach the task in the emotional state you're in now.

E.g., your father's clothes can be donated, either to a Salvation Army, or a Veteran's organization or other organization of your choice. I've been told by a number of people that clothes don't bring much at auctions. So save the auctions for furniture and larger objects, but even they can be donated. SA and Purple Heart both pick up at a home, if you can just get the stuff outside. I believe VFW does as well.

I sense your urgency as well as your anxiety and trauma, and having been there, know that it's hard to make good decisions with all that stress. Try another route: prioritize: easy things w/less emotional value first. Kitchen utensils, towels, sheets, etc. don't have as many memories as photos.

Fourth, take time to find a removal company that really works with you, not one of the 800 Junkers. Try JDog Junk Removal & Hauling in Orlando, FL 32819. They're not close to your area, but my JDog drives just as far to help me.

They're a Veteran owned company, and Vets often help out. The last time they came, a Marine on leave used that time to help them. They're hands down, the best ever service I've hired for home cleanout, far more knowledgeable, reliable and competent, with resources to handle some demolition that other companies wouldn't touch.

I know 1200 miles is a long, long way to drive, but if you can make each visit longer than a week (which is much too short a time for a cleanout), you can acclimate yourself to the task, and lessen the trauma.

(If I haven't convinced you yet, post back and I'll keep trying!)
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Mthr did not take care of her home for 40 years, so 8 years ago we paid for it to be torn down and the lot scraped to the specs of the neighboring church we would donate it to. Not long ago, I went to google maps and searched the address. It was so pretty now as a park! Now other people can make good memories and it is a blessing to many.

I like how flylady says to let go of things to bless others. The idea of blessing others with things has made the process of letting things go.
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When I had to go through my mother’s possessions after she died, I found I had to “go away” emotionally if that makes sense, and just power through it. I made quick decisions, and found it best to keep only a few items. The memories were her, not her things. I will be doing this again when my dad is gone, and though I dread it, I know I’ll do the same. And it does help to think of a new family living in the home and creating their own happy memories there. I wish you peace in all this..
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I am sorry you are feeling so melancholy but as others said, you take the feelings from those experiences with you.

Me being more practical I would ask yourself, in spite of the memories, are you able to purchase the home and make all the repairs and renovations to keep the home functioning in good shape? Probably not. In that case you need to let it go.

My hubby and family had to sell their childhood home 3 yrs ago to pay for MIL’s LTC/MC. He went up and spent the weekend with his siblings and they went through it together. It was very hard on him, as, like you, his whole life was spent in that house growing up.
But sell they did. A year later hubby drove past his old home and it was totally renovated- didn’t even look like his house.

Everything changes; nothing stays the same. It’s all perspective. You are not only mourning the loss of your childhood home but the loss of your parents as well (essentially both if mom has dementia now). It’s a huge realization. Very emotional.

But in the end it’s only “stuff”- an old house with old memories. What you will remember most are the sentiments behind those events that were so important in your life.

Don’t even store anything - clean it out. I have stuff of my mother’s I have kept from her apt now for 7 years that I should have let go then. It sits there taking up space not only physically but in my heart as well. I too need to learn how to let go.

The end of this chapter in your life is difficult but you’ve been able to get through difficult situations in the past due to the love and support you received during your time in that house.
That’s priceless.
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NancyInSc Jun 16, 2020
"Don’t even store anything - clean it out. I have stuff of my mother’s I have kept from her apt now for 7 years that I should have let go then. It sits there taking up space not only physically but in my heart as well. I too need to learn how to let go."

AMEN! I am cleaning out my parent's house now and have found several boxes of their parent's stuff and my mother's grandmothers stuff. Before her passing in December at 94 years, my mother and I had started on a Swedish Death Cleanse finding homes for her precious items and weeding down my stuff. Now I am working on it a little every day. I have 70+ years of paperwork. My relatives tend to live to their mid-nineties, and are packrats. Lots of goodies to go though. You will survive.
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