1. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    With it looking like only a major miracle will ever see mum come home, I wonder how other people have coped with maintaining a parent's or loved one's 'empty house'.

    On an emotional level, I am struggling to visit - even though I know I need to check the property every now and then in spite of her great neighbours who keep an eye out for simple things like putting things through the letterbox or anything else makes it obvious that the property is empty .... the sense of her not being there - and never likely to be there again is awesome ... so much that I have steeled myself to go in and move 'perishables' but can't bear to move anything else .... including the zillion notes around the place reminding her of my name and telephone number etc ..... my instinct is to want to 'blitz' the place ... yet I can't bear to move aything without good reason .... am I trying to keep a shrine? :(

    Then there is the practical aspect - insurance companies are talking exclusions or additional premiums ....... (awaiting official 'checklist') .....

    I have removed some items of irreplaceable sentimental value (mostly old letters and pictures) and just stored them in my own home ... but I'm running out of space!

    Any ideas? Thanks, Karen, x
  2. lesmisralbles

    lesmisralbles Account Closed

    Nov 23, 2007
    No ideas:(
    Just keeping up to date.
    Sending love
    Barb & Ron XX
  3. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    Dear Karen, your feelings are normal.
    I am not sure when is the right time to do anything. I still have things out at home that I know my Lionel would not want moved. He has been in his CH now for 20 months, and I know will never come back to this house. I just tiptoe around them.:confused:
  4. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    I feel the same about John's 'den'.

    It was his, he chose the furniture for it, and kept it immaculate.

    Until you open the drawers, that is!:eek:

    I've finally dumped his computer, an ancient Tiny (remember them?), about 10 years old, and unused for at least 4.

    But there are family documents going back centuries, war medals, photographs, etc. I'll eventually pass those to his sons.

    His set of bowls I've donated to the NH.

    But it's all his painting gear I find so hard to deal with. It's just so 'John'. I look at it, cry, and put it back!

    Karen, I know it's not the same, there aren't the practical problems of an empty house, but I undersatand the emotions so well.

  5. helen.tomlinson

    helen.tomlinson Registered User

    Mar 27, 2008
    Hello Karen

    There is good reason Karen. Your mum has moved on. Could you just tackle one thing at a time starting with those zillion notes because they will never be needed again. Your mum is now cared for and removing those notes could be very therapeutic.

    One step at a time.

    Love Helen

    ROSEANN Registered User

    Oct 1, 2006
    Dear Karen
    Just my way of looking at it.

    Although you know your mum will not be coming home you are also not ready to give up on her just yet and as such you are not ready to give up on her home, it`s too full of memories.

    The time will come when it has to be done but your emotions are to raw at the moment, so just do what you have to at the moment you have a lot on your plate.
    Much love to you Roseann
  7. Ethel Joan

    Ethel Joan Registered User

    Oct 14, 2007
    Hi Karen,
    It's not very often that I reply on here although I read nearly all the posts and have gone through what most of you all are/have experienced.

    Your post moved me to reply, we were in a similar situation with Husbands Grandmother. She had been taken into hospital and then NH leaving her bungalow empty.

    Eventually we knew we had to empty it, so while she was in NH we all got together and did the painful deed. I personally kept a few momentos (sp) of hers in a treasure box. I brought a nice colourful box and kept some personal things of hers in it, things that are probably worthless to anyone else but things she thought were wonderful. Including a very old medical book (1920's) she constantly consulted it with everyones ailment and the wonderful cures gave us all a laugh. Sadly Nan is no longer with us but a look in that box now and then always puts a smile on our faces. I did the same for my Mom when she fell to this horrible plight, we even cut up her favorite dress (the one she always had to wear, you know the one) and had a square each to keep.
    It's just an idea to try, as you know they have so much stuff in their homes that we sometimes don't know what to keep or let go of.
    On a more practical note. I do a lot of door to door work and it is quite easy to note which houses are not lived in, so I would suggest that you keep the windows clean, change the lace curtains occasionally and also keep the garden tidy, that way the passerby won't know someones not at home at the moment.
    All the best in whatever you decide to do

    Regards Jay
  8. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland

    Spot on, Roseann. That's exactly how I feel.

    I was spurred on to make a start last week when Cliff said he was using Dee's room, and that comforted him. The computer had to go, I've been wanting to dump it for years, but John wouldn't let me, he always thought he'd be able to use it again one day. And it's only a machine anyway.

    It's all the personal things that are so hard. It's going to take me a while!:(
  9. Mameeskye

    Mameeskye Registered User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Hi KAren

    My advice is not to worry about the house too much. Mum's was empty for 8 months before I could even contemplate starting the clear up. I would do bits when I stayed there when I went to visit her, but never too much.

    It was funny as we had moved into this house when I was 5 but from the time Mum went into hospital it felt like a shell, rather than "home".

    Eventually, due to my brother getting ratty, he insisted on the place being cleared in a fortnight eventhough there was no need, my husband went down and cleared the house to maximise it's space before it went on the market. He filled loads of boxes which I have still to sort through. I had two 2.5 yearolds at the time and could not do much as I had no care for them, but needed his help to shift furniture. As my back was bad at the time he sorted everything out for me while I stayed at home with the monsters!

    Even now, almost 4 years later I still have these boxes to sort thorugh in my garage...one day...but I always think that there are better things to do wiht the amount of time that i had, eg visiting Mum, playing with my kids etc.

    Unless you are in desperate need of cash, that either selling or renting will be bring, take her valuables out and set one or more of the lights on timer, which you can change every few weeks or so, get the post delivered to you and take the time you need to be with your Mum rather than clearing up.

    It will still be there tomorrow and you can do it when you are ready to move on. It is not a shrine, just another call on your time that, as yet, you don't feel ready to deal with nor probably want to spend time doing. You will one day, until then let it be.

  10. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Thanks all for wise words, as usual. I am almost afraid to use this phrase in case it upsets anyone else but all I can think at the moment is that we are going through a 'suspended death' .... she's already gone and yet not gone ...... and while mum is in hospital and visiting is so restricted I have probably got more time on my hands than is good for me .... although the thought of trying to concentrate on work (haven't even got enough attention span to read a newspaper article at the minute!) .... if I am not immersing myself in 'something to do with mum' - it's just not happening. It feels like doing some 'clearing out' may be in some way therapeutic - and just on a practical level a good use of time - but emotionally, maybe I just can't get the stupid idea out of my head that she might yet come home (which I know logically is just not going to happen) and I want everything to be just as she left it ..... including the ludicrous things she has stored away over the years 'in case they come in useful'? :rolleyes:

    Love, Karen, x
  11. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    #11 Margarita, Jun 23, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
    That how I felt when my father pass away , a house it only brick maltier , so when mum decided to sell up ( been our home for since I was a year old ) I help her .

    Its all just very Sentimental . sentimental things that we value in the house .

    I can only imagine It must be hard for you Karen to put closure on the house while your mother still alive as I found it hard enough not to expect my father walking throw the fount door any more & he was dead .
  12. twinone

    twinone Registered User

    May 19, 2008
    Hi Karen

    Dont rush into anything - do it when you feel ready.

    Mine is a different situation than yours but when I came home after 2 weeks staying at my sisters after Steve's death I could not face moving any of his things. Some things are still here today.

    Its such an emotional time knowing that they wont use them again, I still can not bear to move his aftershave and his golf clubs.

    Only you can tell when the time is right.

    Love and best wishes

  13. citybythesea

    citybythesea Registered User

    Mar 23, 2008
    coast of texas
    Karen, I agree with all the posts. Moms home stayed unlived in for 2 years until I decided I would no longer pay the taxes on our homes. (We live in an inciome tax free state so all government revenue comes from property taxes) I packed up 2 homes and 6 storage units and put them into storage. (I now pay a little morgage on storage!) While I agree you have better things might I suggest getting a set amount of plastic bins and wonce a month taking them to your mothers and filling them. When mom first started living with me I did this. Most of those were filled with paper "junk". I went thru old bills, letters and cards (I read quite a few of them to mom and we reminisced...later on when she had gone as far as she could I would read them to her again, hoping she would feel tranquility)

    Mom had lots of letters which we turned into a book, I put them in a scrap book according to dates. When she died and all the kids were here they had fun reading and reminiscing...they learned how my father wrote my mother every day while they courted.[The kids soon could start every letter before it was written]

    The rest I still have to go thru and no one will be helping so no one can complain of my timeline except myself. I know it is hard and I know how you feel of the "suspended". Mom did not go thru what your mother is going thru but it still felt unnatural as she fought hard to stay alive. I hope you can find both the courage and the mental strength to keep up the good work, your mother has raised you well and in the end all the bows will be tied neatly as they should be.


  14. helen.tomlinson

    helen.tomlinson Registered User

    Mar 27, 2008
    Hello Karen

    It's not what any of us say that's important, it's what you say.

    You said
    and it's the last part of the above that might hold the clue for you. Just say mum did come home, just say there was a glimmer of hope that she might, would she really remember it as it was? You could say to yourself, you are going to clear it to make it fresh for her and then if she comes home she can have it just as she would like in her new personal circumstances!!!

    Whatever you decide, I trust it will be the very best for you.

    Love and respect

  15. hendy

    hendy Registered User

    Feb 20, 2008
    West Yorkshire
    Dear Karen
    Only you can know what is right, dont let anybody rush you into doing anything you feel the slightest bit uneasy about. I had to manage and look after dads house for quite a while, before putting it on the market. I found it so hard as I had a toddler also to look after. In the end I got a friend who was a cleaner and paid her to spruce it up and get it looking nice, I couldn't face it, but she said she found it theraputic! As I had no help from any other family, and two young children in tow ,all I could do was put stuff he didn't need immediately, into storage and its all still there now! I still cant face going through it. i just wished I hadn'r rushed into selling it, it was far too much to cope with at the time. It would have waited.
    just do what you think and dont rush into anything.
    take care
  16. LIZ50

    LIZ50 Registered User

    Mar 23, 2008
    Hi Karen

    Like you, I had the same problem with Mum's flat when she came to live with me. I used to go round there on the days she went to day care, through the door and think 'can I do this today or not?' Some days I could although there were so many memories attached to everything that very often the tears would roll down my cheeks and I would say'oh Mum how did it come to this' but at least I knew that I would be seeing her when she came home from day care and that thought kept me going.
    Eventually, it was cleared with many many boxes put into my garage (still there) and Mum's personal things and mementoes put into her bedroom in my house and the flat was sold although Mum always thought she only rented the flat even though I explained it to her so many times. The couple of times she did get upset about the sale I had to resort to a little white lie saying that when she was better we would buy a smaller place for her and she was perfectly happy about that.
    Now Mum's gone and I know that I have to clear her room but it's so hard and I walk into the room with every good intention but I get so upset and I just can't do it because I know that this time I won't be seeing her again even though I can still picture her so clearly in my mind and I'm just so relieved that I don't have the mammoth task of clearing out her flat as I know that I wouldn't be able to cope with the heartache now that she's gone.
    Karen, you will cry when clearing out your Mum's place because everything has a memory attached to it and I found many things that I never knew Mum had kept but the nicest thing about clearing out Mum's place when she was still here was that I could go home and talk to her about it and sometimes the memory came back to her, especially the time we ploughed through a big old photograph box and she remembered some things about her childhood from the photos that she had never told me before. So, now I can look at these photos and know the story whereas I would have never been able to do that if I had cleared the flat after she passed away.
    But, as with everything in life, you must do what you feel is right for you and nobody else as we all view things differently.
    Love Liz xx
  17. fearful fiona

    fearful fiona Registered User

    Apr 19, 2007
    Hello Karen,

    Like the others I'm going through a similar thing. It seems quite recent that my brother and I took our parents to the care home - in fact it was last October! Now with my father no longer around and Mum in the EMI home, there is no chance of her returning.

    We identified a few items to go to the care home and shared out the valuables so that they were not there for the stealing of. We gave a few little ornaments etc to our parents' neighbours who had looked out for them for so long.

    The insurance company are fine as long as someone goes into the house once a week to check it out. I have kept the garden looking nice because Mum was such a keen gardener and maybe in the way that is some sort of shrine (although she is still alive of course)

    Now the house is on the market and will have to be cleared at some stage. I am dreading it, and in fact now everything of any value (sentimental or otherwise) has been removed, I'm just wondering about getting a company or charity in to clear it all away. I just can't bear going through everything.
  18. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    You are just all so kind .... I guess I knew this would touch nerves - we've probably all 'been there' to some degree or other already - I guess I am struggling too to see the 'family home' I have known for 90% of my life turning into (as you said Maggie) no more than a shell ....

    I love the idea some of you have mentioned about being able to find things to reminisce with mum while I still can (hadn't thought of it that way!) ... and storage may be a good option for some things until whatever future point I can cope with completely 'letting go' or deciding what best to do with them .....

    But Helen - this is just perfect
    ...... I think my urge to 'blitz' is not so much about clearing out but wanting to remove every s*dding scrap of evidence (sorry) of what this disease did to mum over her last few years in what was once a much loved family home, filled with laughter and fresh flowers not post-it notes and reminders (although I did try to keep the fresh flowers flowing!) ......

    Perhaps if I tackle it as 'clearing away the sadness' it will be something positive and therapeutic for me ... and if the miracle should ever happen that she does come home it will be to the family home she loved, restored to how it was before she was first robbed of her independence........

    Thank you all - my resolve is in short measure at the minute but you have all certainly helped restore some ....

    Now, if anyone has any ideas what to do with 200 pairs of American Tan tights, fifty washed out yoghurt cartons and enough Christmas wrapping paper to put Santa to shame ....... :eek:(and that was just one set of drawers!!!!) Smile and the world smiles with you and all that ........ :(

    Love to you all, Karen, x
  19. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    Newport, Gwent
    #19 Cate, Jun 23, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
    Hi Kaz

    I totally understand where you are coming from, I would no more go into my mum’s bedroom without knocking first than fly, and I had never so much as opened her wardrobe or dressing table drawers without first asking.

    We were left with no choice though than to do this because we had to sell her home to pay for her NH fees. Like you I held onto the hope that she might return, so I guess it was a blessing in disguise that we were left with no choice at all in the matter, and once it was sold, we had to get a move on with it.

    Going through all her private papers was just dreadful, but it was a job that we had to do, but I felt like I was prying. Fortunately she was able to take much of her furniture with her (yes we have a well over stuffed with furniture room at the NH), so it’s a job we have to face yet again, and I fear in the not too distant future.

    All the advice I can give to you is, go and do as much as you can when you can, you might come across things you may want to talk to mum about, it might help if you take Tom or Dave with you, I certainly wouldn’t advocate doing it on your own, you will need support.

    Thinking of you.


    Cate xxxxx

    PS At least 500 pairs of tights take up less room than 500 boxes of Kleenex and toilet rolls!!!
  20. citybythesea

    citybythesea Registered User

    Mar 23, 2008
    coast of texas
    ...good old craft ingenuity.....take the tights, yoghurt cups or any other items that may be crafty to your nursing home or a child care facility. If the wrapping paper is in good condition find out about the "Santas" at christmas who give away toys...I could go millions of places with this one...

    Mom had in her stuff 2 grandmothers and her own stuff for me to pack. I have been sorting out to museums, old schools (yearbooks) the pantyhose.....try at least 50 right legged hose (you know the type you need a garter for) and where did the left side go to all those????????????????I will never know unless Gran wrote about that in her diaries. I still have far to go but as each day I bring a new good memory forward to replace with the bad.

    If you know anyone who does soft sculpture they will love getting the tights!!!!!!!!!!!!!...

    OK not trying to be funny or off subject. It will get easier over time.



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