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Cleaning Out
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2017 1:36 PM
Joined: 9/18/2013
Posts: 243

Someone please tell me how you get through this without having a severe breakdown. I need to start cleaning out. I want to start cleaning out. My mom has a lot of clothes to donate and someone who is without clothes surely could benefit. I know which organizations I want to donations to go but trying to get into the bags without feeling as if I'm having a heart attack is proving to be difficult.Giving away "her stuff" just seems wrong to me for some reason. I know she's not coming back to get them, it's tough.
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2017 1:49 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 4120

My suggestion is to get some packing containers and just pack then stack the containers in the garage, shed or corner of a room. In other words, gather the clothing and store it and attend to it a little at a time. Packing and stacking gets it out of the way space-wise or contained in a manageable fashion.

Keep the container size manageable from a carrying standpoint.

Toss all the shoes/socks in one or two containers. These are likely things you may want to donate before other things. Underwear/bras/slips etc might be a 3rd container that you may wish to donate sooner rather than later.

 The important thing IMO seems to be collecting the clothing and having it available in one area/location/box/container. 

The act of attending/going though the stacks is in itself part of the therapeutic process IMO, at least it has been for me.  The idea behind packing/stacking is the thought of discarding things (heart attack) was simply too overwhelming. For me however, much of my mothers clothing is attached to a place in time or a memorable event.

This has worked for me.  It only addresses the clothing aspect.


Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2017 1:37 PM
Joined: 5/14/2013
Posts: 451

Hi. When mom passed in June, dad wanted all her clothes cleaned out within about 2-3 weeks time. My sister and I went over the house and made 3 piles - things to donate, things she wanted, and things I wanted. We had no choice b/c dad wanted it that way and he had done practically everything for mom, so we didn't argue. So we gave the donated things to my brother-in-law (b/c neither me or sis wanted to put her clothes in a bin), and he handled that for us. I can't speak for my sis now, but the bag of clothes I took is still downstairs - I did go through and wash some and even wore a dress mom had for a Christmas party. But the bag is still downstairs and as it gets less clothes in it, I find that I'm not anxious to totally remove the last things out of the bag. It's like if the bag is still there, it's OK, and I don't want it to be gone just yet. And I justify it by saying - "it's only one bag."

But try to look at it like this - it is a new year, so it is going to be different. Your mom wouldn't want you saving things you aren't going to use -  I know my mom wouldn't. Also - for the last few years of this disease, mom wore basically the same style clothes - sweatshirts, comfortable pants, etc, and so many of her "nice" clothes we had to go through either she never wore or wore them so many years before that I can't remember when the last time I had seen her wearing any of them was. So in that respect, the clothes had less of an emotional impact, at least for myself.  I hope this helps you a little.

Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2017 2:59 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 19632

One of my favorites "don't do today what you can put off until tomorrow". Does it matter if you never divest yourself?

I have given away only a few of my husband's things. My son too and wore the double-breasted tux. That was wonderful! The Red Ripper Jacket (Navy fighter squadron) is on the back of a dining room chair. I wear the turtle necks and some of the sweaters.. Underwear and handkerchiefs gone. Boots, all except his good black ones, need a home.  

Come to think of it, I think I am now ready to give away some of his suits and maybe about 100 ties and still be But somethings? Not going yet.

Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2017 5:09 PM
Joined: 9/18/2013
Posts: 243

susanz wrote:

But try to look at it like this - it is a new year, so it is going to be different. Your mom wouldn't want you saving things you aren't going to use -

You're so right and I know it has to be done but the thought of "giving" her stuff away just makes me terribly depressed. I live in her house and it has to be sold pretty soon so I know it has to get done sooner than later. But, I can't even hardly look at her things let alone let them go. I get this huge lump in my throat and can barely speak, followed by extreme sobbing. Thus, the items end up staying right where they are. I guess I'm stuck in my grief and not moving forward like I should. It's been almost 2 months since she died but it seems like yesterday. As I type this, the tears are streaming down my face. I miss her more than words can say.

His Daughter
Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2017 10:05 PM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270

Tay, when I had to do this, I decided from the beginning not to fight my emotions.  My husband went and got me three large plastic totes.  While Dad's clothing filled several closets, not everything was something that brought back wonderful memories.  So much of it could be bagged for donation.  But whenever I saw something that really struck a chord, it went in one of my containers.  Yes, those containers are still in my basement.  And honestly I'll deal with it when ever I am darn good and ready.  It's there, it's safe, and right now I just don't want to deal with anything more.  

Take your'll know when you are ready.


Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2017 1:43 AM
Joined: 11/16/2015
Posts: 22

I wanted to clean out my husband's clothing but I could not do it.  I would start weeping and it was too painful.  It's been eight weeks now since he passed away and I still can't bring myself to sort out his belongings.  Every shirt, every jacket, etc. ..  brings out a memory of him.  It is strange but I feel that by giving away his clothes, I am betraying those memories.   My friends and family tell me to take my time and that is what I'm doing right now.  I just don't want to cry anymore.  I did manage to give away some shoes he never wore.  Shirts he never got around to wearing still hang in the closet-- some with store tags still on.  It's like time stood still.  I'm just not ready to deal with any of that right now.  I'm still trying to cope with  his passing away.  In due time I will do it but I know in my heart that I will end up keeping a few of my DH's special items.
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2017 8:12 AM
Joined: 5/14/2013
Posts: 451

Hi All - if this helps one of you a little, then it's worth it. Here's the way I deal with the grief. I know everyone is different, so this is just my outlook on it. I know that my mother would not want me crying constantly over her - she was not that kind of person. I doubt any of your loved ones would want you to be crying over them. They would want you to keep going, just as my mom wants me to keep going. Death is a part of life, that's just the way it is. Unfortunately alzheimers causes mental death way before physical death, but that's just the bad hand we all were dealt, and no amount of crying will fix that. Just as no amount of crying will bring our loved ones back. Sorry I feel like I'm rambling.

Stuff is just stuff - if you think about it, do any of your clothes mean anything special to you? Probably not, unless you had something really big happen to you while wearing it, or someone really special gave it to you. Other than that, it's just something you wear. Our loved ones probably felt the same way- it was just something to wear and had no sentimental value whatsoever. Maybe that will make it a little easier for some of you to think of it in that way.

Also, when I go to mom's grave, I do start to cry, but then I tell myself that mom wouldn't want me sitting there crying, so I get over it really quickly. All crying does is make your nose stuffy and eyes puffy. LOL. And crying doesn't change anything. I keep telling myself that over and over until I finally make myself believe it. And for me, it has helped immensely. I'm not saying there hasn't been a time or two when the grief became overwhelming and I lost it - it happens to everyone, but to me it is few and far between. 

When you have to go through things, especially if you have a time frame b/c you have to sell a house, try to think of it in as business-like manner as you can - you have a "job" to do and it has to get done. The longer you put it off, the more on your mind it stays and you feel no level of relief.  Try to force yourself not to cry. Once it's all done, then feel free to let yourself grieve, but try to just keep repeating - it's just stuff, it's just stuff, while you are doing it so you focus on something else. Also maybe keep a TV or radio on so you are further distracted - if your mind is in a few different places it will be more difficult to dwell on one specific thing.


Still Waters
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2017 12:52 PM
Joined: 2/6/2012
Posts: 1092

I am in the midst of doing this myself, except I am 2 months ahead of you. My mother died 4 months ago. To me clothing is sacred. It took me 3-1/2 months to be able to take them out of the closet and fold them. Since we are forced to do this, I put what ever I could not part with into clear zip storage bags and stored them in my bedroom for now. The tops that she looked best in, the outfits she wore most often, pajamas, a coat, a sweater, a bath robe, a winter scarf, socks, gloves, hats, a pair of shoes, I am keeping it all. For now. I will not part with anything I am not ready to yet. I feel the same way you do. I feel like I am betraying her by giving away her things. It feels wrong. So I won't do it. I quite frankly do not care how much stuff I accumulate ! So if you can't do it - then don't do it ! Put as much stuff in some kind of storage as you can. Even if it means putting them in your closet on a shelf, in the corner of your room, where ever. When you are ready, if you are ready, one day you can give them away.

Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2017 4:51 PM
Joined: 9/18/2013
Posts: 243

susanz wrote:

 All crying does is make your nose stuffy and eyes puffy.  

I just turned 50 and already I am dealing with puffy eyes so no, I don't need to make my eyes any puffier...LOL.  I agree with what you're saying and my head knows you're right but my heart does and says something else. It's just tough, that's all.

Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2017 5:09 PM
Joined: 9/18/2013
Posts: 243

Still Waters wrote:
 I feel like I am betraying her by giving away her things. It feels wrong. So I won't do it. I quite frankly do not care how much stuff I accumulate ! So if you can't do it - then don't do it ! Put as much stuff in some kind of storage as you can. Even if it means putting them in your closet on a shelf, in the corner of your room, where ever. When you are ready, if you are ready, one day you can give them away.

I don't know why but it does feel wrong however on the flip side, when I think about my mom I can't help but think of what of giving person she was. I know there are people out there who don't have warm clothes this winter who would benefit from the donation of all the sweaters, coats and other clothes that's just sitting in the closet. I think it's just coming to terms with the finality of it all. Maybe it's just me thinking that this is just one great big nightmare that I have yet to wake up from and she's going to come walking in the front door. She'll ask where's her coat and I'll have to tell her that someone down at the rescue mission has it Yep, I know that sounded goofy, childlike but right now it's the only way I can keep from losing my mind. 

The house will have to be sold or go back to the mortgage company soon as I cannot afford to pay off the loan therefore; I know I have to part with some of her things. I know it's just stuff but it's her stuff and there are many memories attached to them. It's just hard.

Still Waters
Posted: Monday, January 9, 2017 10:20 AM
Joined: 2/6/2012
Posts: 1092

Tay I think having to move during intense grief is a disaster. Almost everything I have to sell, donate or throw out of my mothers, makes me feel guilty. On top of the guilt I already have. Its a messed up situation.

Posted: Saturday, January 14, 2017 1:27 PM
Joined: 6/12/2016
Posts: 1513

Tay & Stillwaters,

I'm sorry you both have to deal with this. I know it's not an easy thing to do.


Posted: Saturday, January 14, 2017 9:34 PM
Joined: 12/14/2011
Posts: 415

Sorry you are having to deal with this.

When MIL passed I posted here about trying to get rid of her stuff... I would go in her room and smell her smell amongst her clothing and turn and leave... I went determined one day and took a frame... then months later I unpacked some of her pottery and things and mixed them with mine... .. it's been almost 8 years... the other 95% of her stuff is still in her room...I'm hoping to finally move soon so will go through it all this's ok, enough time has passed that it's just stuff... for me that was the secret....time made it ok