How do you not feel bad for getting rid of a hoarders stuff?

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We moved mom into yet another nursing facility and well I started cleaning out her house. She is a hoarder. Hundreds of craft items , junk you name it, floor to ceiling. She wants to go through all of it, but I dont have time nor do I live in the same state as her. She is mad , mad and upset, but what can I do, I have to get rid of stuff. there is 40 plus years of stuff, the stuff will out live her. I am keeping some but really I cant keep it all. i am so tired and broken down from her, she is making me sick to think that this stuff is all her life , not her children not her life, not her grandkids, great grandkids. SHe is mental ill I know that but no one will help what do I do.

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Hoarding is a mental illness as you already know. Having your mom present when you are trying to get rid of the hoard will get you nowhere as she will attach meaning to every little scrap and be unable to get rid of it. I can relate to a lot of things, a lot of mental illness, but hoarding I could just never wrap my mind around it. I learned about it in a college course I took so I only know about it in theory. And rule #1 is unless there is a professional there at the house while your mom is there don't try to clean it up alone with your mom by your side.

If the chore of getting through all of that stuff has fallen to you all I can suggest is that you take it one day at a time. Hire a dumpster to park in the driveway and just work your way through it, that's the only way to do it. As a precaution, depending upon the state of the hoard you might want to use a respirator mask to avoid sucking in dust and years of mites.

Do you have siblings that can help? Any family at all that can help? If not I'm sure there are services that you can hire to come in and remove all the stuff but I don't know how much they'd charge. It would probably be worth the money.

And you're right again about that stuff being her life at the expense of her family. That's the mental illness. There's a huge emotional void in your mom. Some people who have that void fill it with drugs or alcohol or sex or gambling. This is how your mom filled the void. That's how she coped. And stripping her of her coping mechanism while she stands there with you will get you absolutely nowhere.

Get family to help or hire some company to come in and remove the hoard. Get through it as quickly as possible and be done with it.
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It took weeks to clean out my mom's apartment after she moved to AL. I saved few things, rest went out with the trash. Told her I saved all of her things at my house, after a while she stopped asking.
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BTW, It was sad to get rid of her things, but it had to be done.
I'm now cleaning my house of useless things.
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You are helping them, so don't feel bad. But feelings are feelings. Hoarders can be very manipulative. If you are keeping them safer, you are doing the right thing. I heard it put this way once: You may have a pet or a small child who wants to run in the street. If they do, a car will hit them and they will be injured. Would you let them do it anyway, just because they didn't want to stay in the yard, because you don't want to upset them? Obviously not. Don't take it personally.
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Matches.... light a match! No, I know you can't do that. Yes hoarding syndrome is now recognized as a mental health illness. I can understand you being totally overwhelmed. My great aunt age 99 was a hoarder......It took ( 6 ) 30 yard dumpsters to clear out a very small house. If items are in good shape can I suggest you donate them to an agency such as salvation army or something? It will take quite a while to go through STUFF..... especially if she put money or bonds etc into books. My great aunt dated her husband for 11 years then married. 6 months later he fell hit his head and died. She never got over it. She'd walk everywhere and return with a grocery bag with dollars/ change pencil, book and lay the bag down. We found hundreds of grocery bags, some with bonds she had purchased while out on her excursions. She'd go to yard sales and would only pay a quarter for a jewlery item......like Tiffany and costume jewelry. We ended up having an auction and part of it was 24 totes of jewelry to be sold. All of her gifts she had received as wedding gifts were packed away in attic, like complete sets of depression glass etc. It took about 6 people to get through her house to be able to sell it. I know how you feel...... this is a completely overwhelming situation.
We have Costco by us which allows you to take boxes. We took boxes (that stack) and began to sort different items that way. We could not deal with the clothes as we did not know what was clean or not and threw them out.
The best way to start is in one room so you can make space to use that....You will have to get help from someone... this is too great a task for one person.
The saddest thing about all the scrimping/saving she did, she was wealthy enough to afford a beautiful assisted living......hugs to you, I know what you are going through.
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I had to do this twice--it cost $13,000 over two weeks time with 4 people hired at minimum wage working 8 hour shifts and multiple dumpsters and then I had to do it a second time for my MIL and that only cost $2500.00 for a professional outfit to come in and take everything to the dump. Before I did that, I donated all the furniture a local church wanted and bagged all clothing for the BOYS & GIRLS Club annual pickup. Even if the clothing couldn't be used again, it could be shredded for rags by this outfit who then used the proceeds for their very worthy cause. I was exhausted. My son helped but no one else could be bothered. I came home and denuded my own house of clutter. I will not foist that very difficult and time-consuming experience onto my children or spouse. Good luck. You will feel guilty or sad. When you dismantle a home, you are dismantling a family--but that family has been long gone--you are missing only memories. Take photos of before and after so you can remember the good times and see all you have accomplished. And those missing items will be in your photo album, not cluttering YOUR house.
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Dear missmel - I really, really do feel for you, and anyone who is having to deal with a parent's hoarded house. It took 2-1/2 years, from Jan 2008 - June 2010, of cleaning out every Saturday and Sunday for 5 hours each day, my parents' hoarded belongings. besides their house, there were 4 giant utility houses in the back yard, 2 cars crammed full, a giant storage unit downtown, and stuff piled up in the back yard. they were both obsessed with hoarding and had been since 1968. I broke down and cried every single visit. my husband and i did this without compensation as mom had spent down so much of her money. My dad had died in 1999 but my mom is still alive in an AL. she still hoards, will take things out of the other ladies' trash cans. i am being serious. when she starts hoarding too much, i know she is feeling anxiety and i get her dr to increase her anti-anxiety meds a little bit. there was no one to clean up her gigantic mess but my husband and me. no cousins. my brother didn't help at all. what my husband and i did was make 3 piles - keep, flea market, and pitch. really, we pitched most of it. anything that seemed worth less than $5 was the rule for pitching. we have sold a lot at the flea, i have given away alot of nice things to friends and family...esp to friends who can't afford nice things. to mom, a subway wrapper holds the same worth as a silver ring. and i really do not believe hoarders can be cured. at least my mom would never be. she has always lived in her own selfish la-la land. i have taken pictures every step of the way to have a visual record of the progress. i wish it could all be wiped out of my mind and my husband, son and i could have our 7 years back. if mom had loved me and cared for me i wouldn't feel so resentful. but....she didn't.....! we do the best we can. i am a good mom to my son (and to my mom) - so at least i broke the generational chain. God bless you and anyone else who has to clean up after a train-wreck hoarder who had always made the cleaner's life h*ll. i would not wish it on the worst person on earth.
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Your question phrased "how do I not feel bad..." makes this hard to answer because inevitably, a hoarder is by nature manipulative and you are used to each other and WILL most likely feel bad. There is an old saying about how you cannot control how you feel; your feelings are your feelings. You can only control what you do. If you had a little kid who threw a tantrum if you didn't let him play in the street, would you let him? No. It's dangerous and not good for him to allow him to do that. Hoarders have a mental issue. We have a few in our families, my husband and me, both sides. His ex wife, who is now 63, is a hoarder and it caused, in part, their divorce, her job loss, her home being condemned and the loss of all her 'valuable stuff' that ended up mostly in a sludgy mess in her basement, moldy garbage useless to everyone. (I am not simplifying that their divorce, which was almost 30 years ago, was only due to hoarding but this woman has mental issues an the hoarding is only one part). My mother is a hoarder too, but my parents are fairly wealthy so my OCD clean not father organizes her endless purchases and bulging closets as a full time job. They are 80 and 83, she shops every single day, and will never move out of their 5500 SF house on acreage. What a mess for the entire family. My siblings all enable them both. I live in another city and just have to stay away. Here's an example - my mother, several years ago, gave my sister a bunch of 'crap' that she couldn't throw away. This is something hoarders will sometimes do - can't part with it so they push it on a close family member who then feels obligated to not get rid of it. My sister, by the way, is also a keeper and her husband definitely a more fledgling hoarder (their basement is stacked up so high you have to walk over stuff they never use and never will). When they were transferred and couldn't bring all this stuff with them in the move, they had a garage sale. Not surprisingly, they didn't sell much, because although for my sister 'she made the effort' stuff was so highly priced it didn't sell. Thus validating her reason to keep it! However, my mother came to the sale and BOUGHT BACK some of the stuff she'd given my sister in the first place because she was afraid it would be sold! I stay away. The way I see this, unless a hoarder wants help it does not good. Part of the problem with these people is that there seem to never be consequences. In an effort to 'help' them well meaning people clean up for them, bail them out, over and over, frustrating themselves in the process, only to find that in no time it piles up again. If it were up to me, and only me, I would have them evaluated and if they are deemed not a danger to themselves, let them alone. If they are made to leave their homes, then we'd have to figure it out. If they are considered dangerous to themselves, then I would get them to a safe environment and have professionals come and clean out the home and get rid of it. But to keep going back for more is about as crazy as being a hoarder, in my opinion.
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As we have seen small children have a favorite toy or blanket they were never without, that is the same for adults to hoard things.... everything is special.

Call the county health and see if there is a therapist that can help you and your Mom, and suggest a professional crew that can come to house to help you sort through the items.
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Vstefans, I may have not put it in these words (you did a better job!) but that is exactly it. My MIL was not a hoarder but she did live in her home for 47 years. She was 'extremely sentimental' and didn't have a basement, thank God, so there was a lot to go through but not overwhelmingly so for professionals. They can separate the 'sh-- from shinola' or at least the wheat from the chaff! Anyway, you are so right. They don't charge that much and they get the job done. For a truly hoarding situation, you need more of a hazmat prepared type company and in that case, stuff will be mostly disposed of. But when looking for a way to separate oneself from so much emotional distress pro is the way to go. The other thing to be prepared for is this: Hoarders often believe their 'treasures' are very valuable. Even non hoarders who are sentimentally attached to antiques and family items think so too. After all they have worked to earn, own and enjoy their things and when forced to part with them, they believe they should fetch much more than they do. My MIL's entire home's contents brought about 10K probably one fifth of what she would have expected. Her antiques were beautifully kept, but no one wants a 3/4 size antique bed anymore (that needs a specially made mattress and sheets to fit) unless it's for a little girl! People are not crazy about oak any more, furniture is made to accommodate technology and didn't used to be, people are bigger and taller so old furniture is too small over all. Keep your loved one(s) away from the sale, if you have to get rid of things. It is very depressing and upsetting for them to know their 'life' amounted to so little from a financial standpoint. My MIL insisted on knowing what the net result was and my husband's brother told her. It was a mistake. Also, keep some personal items aside and if you need to put anything in storage and decide what to do with it later, no big deal. Keep them safe but do what you have to do and be willing to be a bit flexible.
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