breaking off for a moan

Discussion in 'After dementia — dealing with loss' started by Áine, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    Just been having a couple of hours up in the attic ..... trying to sort through the stuff that I brought here from dad's house when I cleared it because I didn't know what to do with it. I still don't know what to do with it ....... but I can't get into the attic properly until I shift some of it. Why is it so dammed painful (OK ........ never mind that .......... I know why it's so painful).

    It's stuff like his old chemistry books (he was a chemist) going back to 1930s. No one will want them, to be honest, I don't want them. But when they're stacked there with his name and address written in the front, I can't chuck them.

    And hundreds of slide photographs he took on holidays before I was born. The places mean nothing to me but to throw his precious slide collection in the bin ??

    And then there's loads of beautifully embroidered cloths that my mother (or maybe even her mother) must have done. I don't want them.

    And his hairbrush and smart ties ...........

    And his pictures off the wall ......

    It's going to be a long job .......... I'm finding it agonising and keep having to stop to cry. But I need to reclaim my attic .............
  2. daughter

    daughter Registered User

    Mar 16, 2005
    Hi Áine,

    Have missed you and sorry to hear you're having a hard time clearing out the attic.

    I know the feeling, I tried to tidy my garage the other day, kept finding tools that Dad had given me over the years. Even old paint pots and rusty hinges are difficult to just toss aside knowing Dad would have said "might come in handy" (and I'm starting to think the same way. :eek: )

    I guess it's a job that is best to do if you have plenty of time, to stop and cry, to only throw something away when you are ready, but then again I'm not sure when that is exactly. Thinking of you.

    Love and hugs from Hazel.
  3. DeborahBlythe

    DeborahBlythe Registered User

    Dec 1, 2006
    Aine, very sorry to hear about your struggle with the things in the attic. I don't know if this will help at all, but there is supposed to be a device which allows you to copy slides into digital form. ( The Guardian features one such machine sometimes , see Readers' Offers also on their website). If you saved all the slides in a digital form, maybe you could get rid of the originals without feeling too guilty. It does seem a shame to lose all those pictures... ( I'm hopeless at getting rid of stuff. I try not accumulate any more things but I'm no good at that either :( )

    Maybe do it a chunk at a time?
    Take care, Deborah
  4. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    I still have my dad stamp collection in a shoes box with his post card, oh loads of photo when he was younger . A littlie card that he painted the rock of Gibraltar. I was so angry when he died I throw away a lot of thing when cleaning mum dad house , but keep what I felt was sentimental for me, he loved his stamps we went together to some where in the west end to get them valued when he was alive he thought he had an original penny farthing , he never but they gave him so much joy in collecting them.
  5. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hi Áine,

    Do you really have to clear your dad`s stuff yet, if it`s so painful. I know it will never be anything BUT painful, but why now?

    There may come a time when it will be easier for you. Why don`t you wait a while.
  6. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Dear Áine

    So pleased to see you posting again but, so sorry it’s such a tough time ……. hope you’re getting some ‘good memories’ too as you have to face this task …..

    It’s 8 years since I lost my dad … found myself ironing a polo shirt the other day I had ‘borrowed’ from him and he never did get back … thinking how tatty it had become after being washed for the zillionth time …. Time to throw it away? Couldn’t in a month of Sundays …. even if I didn’t wear it again (which no doubt I will!!!!). I kept dad’s tie collection for years … until one day, it suddenly felt OK to ‘let go’ …..

    My hubby has been much the same with losses in his family - cardigans, hats, books, prints,….. you name it we’ve kept it …… and then much as you sound - we realised one day we had cupboards and boxes full of things we really didn’t need on a practical or even emotional level anymore …. our solution has been to chose one or two ‘special items’ to preserve and slowly let go of the rest …..

    When it comes to items where so much personal time, effort and skill has been input, studies, needlework craft etc …… then I agree it is harder still ….. my only thought would be not to discount that things are of no use to anyone …. as an example, I suspect there are some budding student chemists would be fascinated by your dad’s 1930s books ….. , cannot believe someone would not appreciate skilled needlework … where were the slides taken? UK? Local History Society jump at having them?

    Rather than think of ‘chucking out’, perhaps think of it as spreading a little bit of all the good …… ???

    And allow yourself time - including for crying …..

    Much love, Karen, x
  7. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    My brother couldn't understand my attitude, he would have thrown away her exam certificates and Civil Defense certificate. etc. He threw away the log-book we'd kept for her last 7 months, and the condolence cards and letters. And things we'd agreed to have "half each" of, and he's put his half in with mine. Her rocking-chair went to the "chipper" and that wasn't even old. And there are letters received 70+ years ago.

    I'm glad I've got the kitchen cabinet and the old sideboard which our parents probably bought second-hand about 60 years ago.

    Before she died I had no idea how much of this stuff I would want.

    I can't imagine my niece wanting any of it, but then don't know how much she'll change over the years.

    He found a whole lot more china in cardboard boxes in the garage and shed (involving a few more trips to charity shops), my father had probably bought them from charity shops intending to give them to people and then hadn't dared tell her.

    And books, pictures, cassettes ...

    When they were sorting out my grandmother's house she was still alive. And they were younger than we are now, and there were more of them. So I haven't got any precedent for this sort of thing.
  8. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    Thanks all of you, it's good to know that it's not just me that struggles with stuff like this. I'm sure you're right about doing it a bit at a time. I've put it off over the winter cos it was too painful and too cold in my attic. Now it's sunny it's quite nice up there and seems like time to make a start.

    I like the photo scanner Deborah ...... that does look like a solution to part of it. Any maybe you're right Karen about some people wanting some of the stuff. I've had an idea about the needlework now.

    I suspect a bit of a family trait here. When I was clearing out dad's house I realised he'd not really thrown anything away when my mother died, and in turn she hadn't thrown much away when her parents died, and neither had they when their parents died ................... :eek:

    I remember dad did say to me at some point that he didn't want me to be sentimental about stuff and hang on to loads of stuff like my mother had. But it's easier said than done.
  9. alex

    alex Registered User

    Apr 10, 2006
    Hi Aine

    Nice to see you back.

    I have stuff and its locked away, means nothing to anyone else, just me (especially his mobile phone, his medical bag, stethoscope, priscription pads etc), but can't sort it, can't look at it, don't even want to think about your being very brave and obviously much stronger than me!

    I moved from the house a few months ago and i'm moving offices this week and thats tough as i'm leaving the last connection with the house (as the offices are in the grounds of the house), i know i have to do it, as its so hard going to work everyday and facing the memories, but its also sad to be leaving the last connection to him behind, its soooo final, but its time for me to move on doubt there will be a few tears this week, but its something i have to do......... maybe your at the same stage, where you feel you have to move forward and start letting will be painful for you honey but you'll get where you need to be.

    Good luck with it ;)
    Love Alex x
  10. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hi Alex,

    When my father died, my mother had his car. It gave her a lot of comfort, as when she was driving, she felt close to him.

    She managed to cling to his car for 12 years after he died, but by then it was falling to bits. It was the biggest wrench of all for her to see it go, and it hit her hard.

    So I can understand how the house and office moves will have affected you. Good luck on all counts.
  11. Tina

    Tina Registered User

    May 19, 2006
    Dear Áine,
    no advice on this one, just sympathy...
    We took months to clear nan's things out, and even then there were items we couldn't bear to part with. We each kept something of sentimental value to us, and some things went into a memory box so that, when we come home, we can still look at them.
    With gramps' things, we did the same, but we cleared them immediately after the funeral while we were all there adn got it over and done with. I've got his old jacket, some ties and a pair of braces and a sweater. I've only just managed to put them away in the wardrobe, they were hanging on my living room door until now.
    Aunty Jean's and Uncle Harry's things are / were dealt with by my cousin and his wife. They still haven't cleared everything, finding it very painful. I was there on a couple of occasions to help but found it very, very hard. There are still quite a few bits and pieces left over that need sorting, but they're doing it a bit at a time. Prolonging the agony? Maybe. Will there ever be a good time? Don't know. Will it ever be easy? No, don't think so.
    Wishing you luck and strength in your task. Cry when you need to, it's part and parcel of it all.
  12. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    Thanks Alex and Tina. I've done a bit more sorting. Got a little heap of stuff for charity shop ....... because I've managed to separate some of the "maybe this will come in useful at some point" stuff from the sentimental stuff.
  13. mel

    mel Registered User

    Apr 30, 2006
    Hi Áine
    Its so good to see you back......
    I can't give you much advice......a lot of mum and dads things were sorted by my brother well before mum I really have very little of her now.......
    I know how hard it must be for you now
    But I do have china tea sets going back to the year dot......we don't use them.....they don't hold enough!!
    I've also got the embroidered table cloths.....I don't know why......
    And photos......endless albums of photos!! I can't look at them....but I can't let them go either.....
    Love Wendy xx
  14. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    #14 Margarita, May 2, 2007
    Last edited: May 2, 2007

    You pop in to my mind as I open the garden shed (sp) to look for an insurance policy , It seem now as I looked around at so many boxes , that I have more sentimental thing from my father then I thought I had in what I said from the Post above . and also from My mother that I just can't seem to let of just yet , let alone my fathers and its seen 5 years sice he pass away .

    So was just wondering how you was getting on with your father things
  15. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    hi margarita, how kind of you to think of me. how's it going? hmm .... i shut the door on it and promised to come back to it over the bank holiday :eek:
  16. mel

    mel Registered User

    Apr 30, 2006
    Oh Áine........don't give yourself a time limit.....go with the flow, day you'll feel the time is right;)
    Love Wendy xx
  17. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    Oh thanks , I have been a bit to stress this week also lost the shead key .

    sounds good to me ,I'm one that promiseing and its next year ..... But like Mel says

    Just that I loved the way you look after your father and love him so, just that when my father died, people did not seem as interested to realise how much I miss him compared to if a mother dies , just that you undertand . don't want to talk to much about it , the missing feeling as its early days for you , and don't want to upset you xxx
  18. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    Well ....... the time wasn't quite right today ;) although I did start trying to clean up an old writing bureau that was dad's, and my grandparents before that. that was quite therapeutic .... took it out in the garden to air it ......... the fusty smell it has is one of my earliest memories of visiting grandparents ..... so you can guess how long it is since it's been aired.
  19. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Smells can be so evocative can't they? The only real memory I have of my Grandmother, who died before I was 2, is her lying in bed and dabbing me with lavender water.

  20. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    yes, I seem to remember reading somewhere that smell is the most powerful sense for evoking memory. Seems even more powerful than music sometimes for taking you back through the years.

    ....... makes me suddenly wonder about it's potential usefulness for working with people with dementia ??

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