Living in a hoard and being raised by a hoarder has its consequences. As adults, children of hoarders often find themselves full of resentment, shame and bitterness. Due to these feelings and the inability to help their aging parent clean up the hoard, they have a tendency to avoid the mess. Sometimes when their parent passes away and the hoard becomes their responsibility, it forces them to enter the home after being away from it for many years.
Entering a hoarder’s home is an overwhelming experience. There is so much to do, how do you even know where to start? How long will the cleanup process take? Is there anything of value in the mess? How do you clean up the hoard as quickly as possible without disrespecting the hoarder? These are questions that grown children ask themselves when they find themselves in control of cleaning up the parent’s home.
Tips for Dealing with Your Parent’s Hoard:
- Be aware of health hazards. Check the foundation of the home. Depending on the nature of the hoard and how long it has been in the home, there can be severe damage to the flooring that would deem it unsafe. Don’t come in contact with mold, feces, urine, animal remains or other toxins without the proper gear and protection. Also be aware of anything that is broken and items that get in the way of the path you are working on.
- Sort as you declutter. Create categories for everything you sort. Make piles for donations, items that can be sold and stuff that needs to be hauled away. Don’t get caught up in the emotional attachment to things, but remember that your parent valued these items and the last thing they would want is for them to end up in a landfill. Save whatever items you can to be reused, donated or recycled.
- Be willing to let go. Even if there are “valuable” items or pieces of memorabilia in the piles of junk they are most likely not in good condition. Use your judgment as far as the worthiness of some items and how important it is to keep certain things. Destroyed or moldy items, for example, are not worth keeping. Digging through everything piece by piece to find one specific item may also not be worth your time. Also, be careful not to take too much home. You don’t want to end up in a similar situation down the road. Look at the big picture and stay on task.
- Enlist help. Enlisting the help of family and friends to sort through the junk can make the experience quicker and more bearable. The most time efficient way of cleaning out the hoard, however, is to hire a junk removal company to assist you with the job. They will be able to take the emotion out of the equation and make rational decision on what is salvageable and what can’t be saved.
- Seek help for the mental aspect of it. Cleaning out your parent’s hoard is a difficult task, in addition to grieving the loss. You may want a better understanding of why your mom or dad collected things to this extreme. You might just need someone to talk through the experience with. You may even want assurance that you won’t follow in their footsteps. Having a professional to talk to can be helpful in sorting through all of the mental baggage.
Dealing with your parent’s hoard is not something you want to deal with as your grieve. It is important to deal with it and give yourself that closure, but only to the point that you can handle. Don’t allow the hoard to consume you. Ask for help when you need it, physically and mentally.