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Hello e1-
Need advice input etc on where and how to start with going through, packing, sorting, eliminating 44 years of stuff in an 1800 square foot home plus a garage. Within 6 weeks. I am overwhelmed and hoping someone has a doable method of madness for this type of project. Thank you in advance.
xoxoxo
susan

Daughter of a hoarder here who's done the final clean up. Advice: the money in tissues, in books, in greeting cards, or in brand new stuff with tags and still in the bag is *not* lost now, when you are throwing it away. The loss occurred when your *loved one* hid the items. You cannot grieve the unknown amounts lost. Your time is worth more than it would take to sort every book or magazine. You do what you can to recover things of significant value. A dollar here and there do add up, but there is a limit to what *can* be recovered. The error is with the one who hid the value.

We had pickers come in who gave us a price for the contents after I'd taken what I wanted. I'm sure they found things I wish I'd found. But it's not worth my effort. Those are simply things.

Advice for the OP: throw bags and things out the windows so you don't have to go by your hoarder. Take carloads to dumpsters and don't dispose at the house. Everything will come back in if it's brought by the queen in her chair or thrown away where she will find it.
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Reply to surprise
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MAYDAY Feb 6, 2020
That sounds like me... My family tried that, and I followed the junk pile, and brought in what I think is precious or worthwhile... Needless to say, they had a fit. I am learning.. I only need a few things... I kept the good cooking things... IRON SKILLETS... NO aluminum things.. They got rid of all my good stainless.. why? They didn't know the value of it.. So, I don't cook so much. Anyone watch NHK tv station? They had a show about iron teapots from many moons ago, and still good shape... Iron is natural, and lasts a very long time...May not look so fancy, but they work great. clean it with lemons and salt, and warm water.. Make sure it dries, and cure it with some olive oil if need be..
Who needs a complete set of dishes? Need a dish? You can find a fancy one at the Goodwill or other second hand shops nearby. Things break.. My family thought I had too many dishes, etc.. Strangely, I was dropping a dish or glass or something every week... Stress? maybe.. It was weird.. I think I had too much stress.. I need to drop more dishes..
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Yes! I've lived this! 40 years in a 4 bedroom house plus a large outbuilding study plus 2 garage storage rooms plus small attic PLUS 6 storage units! Dad threw nothing away. Piles of boxes and things. Literally no help from sibling. I was overwhelmed but also blitzed through it, ( had to ) and so can you!

I agree with what everyone here says. There's several ways to go, and absolutely hire people to help. Best money you will ever spend. Sell some things off first to pay for help, if need be. Anything. Now this is my version of how I emptied the house - the key for me was not overthinking where things would go later:

- I walked around the house and made mental note of anything sentimental etc..mom would probably want ( or a few other relatives wanted. ) and what I wanted.
- Hired a pro to help mom pick out her own things she wanted and help her move - THIS WAS AWESOME. Praised pro mom-mover-helper profusely when mom drove her crazy. This also kept mom very busy.
- Ran through house, collected every single photo and put them in leftover suitcases. Photos were loose and all over the place. Had one small suitcase where I put the cutest/most sentimental photos I ran across, and gave that to mom for her new place. Key here was I just collected the photos, did not think about how many there were or what on earth I would do with them!
- Collected the things I wanted/a few relatives wanted and stashed them in my house/truck without thinking where/what I would do with them.
- Now all the things we want were out of the house. Decided to donate EVERYTHING to fire victims in our area, so with mom's permission I hired the real estate stager, movers, etc...to help sort and move and dump virtually everything else. Huge physical task but easier mentally. Longer story but this also involved a friend's huge garage. And the real estate folks were eager to speed things up. At this point mom had some ER visits, so again, getting paid help was critical.
- Storage units were a bear. A bunch of my Dad's stuff was to be donated to an organization so they were a tremendous help. Labelled/moved boxes for the org. and then I burned out on all that damned crap and boxes. A couple of cousins wanted to go through the stuff so I made it completely their responsibility. Had to really push them to complete the job. Honestly I was ready to toss the lot...and it was 99% junky stuff. By that point unless there were gold bars in there I didn't care.

And it got done! Fast! ( except the storage. ) Over the past year or two I've either placed the things I kept in my house, and also realized I didn't want/need some things after all, so gave those away. As for photos I've sorted a few and the rest might sit in suitcases for a long time...but at least they're not lost. What helped me the most was not thinking about where things would go WHILE I was emptying the house. More action and less thinking.

Excuse the really long post but I have so been there. People couldn't believe how fast our house got sorted and sold. It looks like an impossible mountain to climb but you can do it!!!

I also have to add my relationship to 'stuff' has changed and yours might too. I joke I'm totally neurotic about possessions now. Too much is too much!

Truly wishing you the best
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Reply to Madisoncuckoo7
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someone I knew was throwing things away from when her mom died. Lots and lots of tissue in pockets of jackets, pants, etc. everywhere. Finally, one tissue exposed what it was holding.. Money.. Yes money... They wonder how much cash they threw away.
Another friend, went throguh her parents things, opening all sorts of greetting card, xmas cards. 90% of them had Gift Cards in them, from restaurants to Starbucks, Amazon... etc....
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cherokeegrrl54 Feb 5, 2020
My mom stashes extra $$ in bibles and books. When the time comes, i know i will have to go through things carefully for that same reason...
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XOXOXO to all of you!!! Thank you all VERY much for your methods of madness! A dumpster and a ‘abort the sort, plow now’ mindset seem to be the key factors to this project. The tricky part is mom will be in Her Chair as always and you must pass within her scope to get outside and she’s gonna crap when she sees what my idea of minimizing is- good thing she has a colostomy! I told her already that I am minimizing my stuff to ...
I feel relieved to now have a plan of action thanks to all of you!
mark, get set, go!
xoxoxo
susan
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Reply to OUHyperop
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MAYDAY Feb 6, 2020
So be careful with mom...I have a friend who had to move his mom, and had a whole house to get rid of.. in sorts... They invited us over for the last day in the house that he grew up. His mom was looking at the utensils. and there was a whole set they didn't disgard.. He tells mom, you don't need it. She replied you can use it.. it's good silverware... I looked at her, and told her I can use it, and the copier they were going to dump... She was relieved... my friend glanced at me with a thank you... It was overwhelming for her to see another thing being tossed....
Do keep in mind for your mom's sake, that she may be quiet, but she is noticing, and may cause more stress... Plow quietly, quickly, before she notices...
My friend's dad was dying of cancer.. No secret, he wanted to give everything away...His shelves were looking very empty, and he was still alive... I told my friend, to not let everyone take it away so quickly... It was hard..He was a very intelligent man.. and very nice... He took that time to see everyone..and it was the most heart warming party ever., every day.. every week, until it was it was over.. I guess it is how you approach the issue, and how you handle it, that it is okay.
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I could never clear much of anything out with my Mom around. Mom is the oldest daughter in a depression era family of 8 children so _everything_ must be reused until there's absolutely nothing left. I remember once when I was about 30 and cleaned out my closet of worn or too faded for work clothing (not in good enough shape for donation); Mom saw me throwing it in the garbage can and came across the street to ask me what I was doing throwing all those clothes away. She took most of the clothes out of the garbage and back to her house, telling me those faded cotton pants were just fine for her to wear around the house. When I cleaned out my parents' house 25+ years later, I recognized some of those clothes still hanging in Mom's closet _so_ I finally got to actually throw them out!
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Isthisrealyreal Feb 5, 2020
Can I recommend donating items like that for rags.

They cut them up and sell them for rags.

I use to pay anywhere from 50 cents to 1.25 per pound for rags. I needed ones that were going to be used once and disposed of. No washing the pickle juice off of them. (This is the oil used to protect iron pipes.)
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I hired a wonderful decent, honest, respectful company who did the clean out, house goods sale, prepare for realtor, and donation distribution.

I wound up paying about $1200 for the services and it was worth EVERY CENT.

Even if you THINK you have priceless artifacts, you’re likely to be wrong.

The work was ALL DONE over a long weekend.
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Huge dumpster and ruthless attitude. Only way. So get the hauler to leave the dumpster. Enlist help even if hired, point to stuff to be thrown. This will empty it out. Visit thrifts in your area, find out what they will accept, start your piles, have them come by with their trucks. You are into it 6 weeks. I think you might be surprised that you have made progress. If you haven't, what is holding you back. Is it fear of throwing? Because of everything you keep, you will look at it once more, then pass yourself, and your kids will stand there with question marks over their OWN heads. Wishing you luck and if you find clues to what works let the REST of us know. I am good at this. I have let go of everything, put it outside, and folks have walked happily away with my STUFF. And I LOVE doing it, so somehow wish I were there to help, and share a cuppa.
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Please understand when I say "I did" in the following, I'm not meaning I personally picked up and moved all this stuff. Since I wasn't working when I cleaned out my parents' house and could get there on short notice, I made an arrangement with a local moving company to hire movers when they had available hours. So the moving crew spent 6 hours doing a scheduled move and then came to the house to work for a 2 hours. Or occasionally I had them for a whole day when someone canceled a move on short notice.

I started with anything setting "out" and ignored most of the drawers and closets initially. The sooner the house doesn't look so much like a home, the easier the clearing out process becomes, at least for me. This order also made room to use when working on emptying those closets and drawers later. I had to clear three levels: main, attic, and basement. I cleared the main level, then moved attic contents down to the main, then finished with the basement.

First, I removed all valuable small items from the house and placed them in a bank safety deposit boxes. My father had various collections I needed to secure: firearms, pocket watches, stamps, coins, etc. I also removed all remaining medications from the house at this time.

Second, go through the house and get rid of everything you _know_ is a throw away item. Half used bottles of shampoo, lotion, makeup, newspapers, magazines on the coffee table, open food from the kitchen, etc.

Third, go through the house and pack any small item you know you want to keep or distribute later like family Bibles, photos, wall hangings, recipe or keepsake box, annuals, books, tools, musical instruments like my grandfather's violin, my mother's china cabinet contents (since she wanted the china cabinet moved with her), selected kitchen contents (iron cookware and some baking pans), etc. I took these boxes home.

Unfortunately buried in boxes/drawers/files of "papers" are things you might really want to keep but it takes forever to go through it all. To avoid delaying the whole house clearing, I packed all the "documents" in boxes and placed them in storage to deal with later, one or two boxes at a time. Although most of the "documents" were eventually discarded, I did find everything from deeds and insurance policies to my parents' original marriage license (which I needed this year for some of my mother's widow benefits) and photo negatives.

Next I boxed almost all the clothing (emptying those closets and drawers) and remaining kitchen non-perishables. Called a local charity thrift shop to come pick up as well as furniture items with little value, like a IKEA bookshelf and TV stand, remaining wall hangings, and appliances.

I sold several items of nicer furniture and newer appliances from the house. A couple of items went to a local auction house. When the house was empty, I did a basic cleaning, updated the baths and kitchen cabinets, refinished the hardwood floors, applied a fresh coat of paint and put it on the market.
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We had been in our “other” house for 25 years. We sent the big pieces to auction, donated small stuff, consignment shop just a little. Now in our smaller house waiting for the next move to retirement community. Just a few pieces to move, but still need to weed out the remaining small nests of memorabilia. It feels good now. Not weighted down with dining room table, too many chairs and a hutch that was crammed with items we never used. Pick out the obvious to discard, group the similar things together. You will find that you might have six tape measures and 8 boxes of candles and three large boxes of old matches. Weed out all the multiples. If you don’t bake any more, move those kitchen supplies out to someone who will appreciate them.
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May I add--whatever you do, do NOT rent a storage space and fill it with junk planning to sort it out 'later'. Later will not come and you will be dinged for storage for junk you don't want/need.

NOTHING of my FIL's went into 'storage' except for the 30,000 golf balls. And they are not my problem.

My friends parents died within 6 month of each other. Friend, being totally overwhelmed, simply bought a ton of hue plastic bins and packed them full. She is now paying $175 a month to store her parent's hoard. I'm sure the total of what she has stored comes to nowhere near the nearly $2400+ she has already spent on storage.
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