A Person Who Digs Up Animal Remains For A Living A Hoarder’s Estate: When Grown Children Are Left to Sort the Hoard

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A Hoarder’s Estate: When Grown Children Are Left to Sort the Hoard

Living in a hoard and being raised by a hoarder has its consequences. As adults, children of hoarders often find themselves filled with resentment, shame, and bitterness. Because of these feelings and the inability to help their elderly parent clean up the mess, they have a tendency to avoid clutter. Sometimes when their parent passes away and hoarding becomes their responsibility, it forces them into 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 know where to start? How long will the cleaning process take? Is there anything of value in the mess? How do you clear the stack as quickly as possible without disrespecting the stacker? These are questions grown children ask themselves when they find themselves in charge of cleaning their parents’ house.

Tips for dealing with your parent’s pile:

  • Be aware of health risks. Check the foundation of the house. Depending on the nature of the pile and how long it has been in the house, there may be severe damage to the floor that would render it unsafe. Do not come into contact with mold, feces, urine, animal waste or other toxins without proper equipment and protection. Also be aware of anything that is broken and objects that get in the way of what you are working on.
  • Sort as you declutter. Create categories for everything you list. Make piles for donations, items that can be sold, and things that need to be pulled. Don’t get emotionally attached 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 every item you can to reuse, donate or recycle.
  • Be willing to let go. Even if there are “valuable” items or pieces of memorabilia in the junk piles, they are most likely not in good condition. Use your own judgment as to the worthiness of certain items and how important it is to keep certain things. For example, damaged or moldy items are not worth keeping. Digging through everything piecemeal to find a specific item may 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.
  • Ask for help. Enlisting the help of family and friends to sort through the clutter can make the experience quicker and more bearable. The most time-efficient way to clean the tank, however, is to hire a junk removal company to help you with the job. They will be able to take emotions out of the equation and make rational decisions about what can and cannot be saved.
  • Get help for the mental side of it. Cleaning out a parent’s storage is a difficult task, in addition to grieving the loss. You may want to better understand why your mother or father took things to this extreme. You may just need someone to talk about the experience with. You may even want reassurance that you won’t follow in their footsteps. Having a professional to talk to can be helpful in sorting through all the mental baggage.

Dealing with your parent’s pile is not something you want to treat as grief. It’s important to deal with it and give yourself that closure, but only to the point that you can handle it. Don’t let the pile consume you. Ask for help when you need it, physically and mentally.

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