Tuesday, September 28, 2010


This morning I was catching up, or trying to, on some visiting...when I came across a post by Becky.  She addressed the issue of hoarding and I wanted to just tell you a story about that..before you begin tossing things out in a panic. 

This mess is outside in one of my two storage sheds.  The orange is my Halloween things..and there is much more,  an old chicken cage for carrying chickens..just "stuff" I don't use..but think I might one day.  I mean, doesn't everyone need a chicken coop?   I keep thinking I might get a chicken one day.  Well...I might!!! 

Same thing here.  A hose?  We have lots of them in use already.  Those little flags I could not "live without?"
Just "stuff"...some of the containers...I have no idea what is in them.  I keep saying I am going through them and label them.  And...one day I just might!  Well....it COULD happen!! 
You see, I have a dear friend that is a hoarder.  Not to the extent that I have seen on television...but once she was darn close.  When I met her I wondered why she never invited me to her home...ever!  I think I knew her for a couple of years and each night she would come by my home to visit..sometimes bringing food she had picked up from a restaurant for both of us.

Eventually the time came when she could not get around it...and I will never forget the shock when I entered her home.  I met my friend at a "Grief Closure" seminar after my husband died.  Her husband had died only ten days before mine.  We were introduce by one of the women who was running the meeting for people going through a time of grief.  She was the nicest person..but sort closed and a bit distant..but it was evident she wanted to be friends.  And we did become friends.  Good friends.  And as different as we are, our friendship has endured.  We had very little in common really but we liked one another.

I will never forget the first time I  entered her home...there were shopping bags wall to wall, the coffee table, under the coffee table, beds in guest room, her room, office, dining room, were stacked feet high with stuff!  In the kitchen you could not see the counter tops or the sink or much of the stove.  The table was at least three feet high with just stuff.  Papers...mail...just everything.  The garage was packed from floor to roof.  There was a tiny path to get to the washer and dryer.  She had cats!  It was NOT good.  Even the light switches were packed with stuff.  I guess she put a piece of mail in behind the plate and then packed it from there...I had never seen anything like it in my life!  I know she knew I was shocked. 

Here is the thing.  Many times she had told me she didn't want to end up like her mother.  Her mother had the same ...disorder?  Her mother was found behind her kitchen stove when she passed away.  Her home, apparently was the same as my friends..but worse, according to what my friend has told me. 

When my friend had to move from her house...it was sold by the owners, she had to move to an apartment, she was terribly upset and I traveled to help her.  I had remarried by then and moved away.   I stayed three days, but slept at my daughters home.
My friend suffered..she really suffered when she had to have a garage sale which lasted several days.  Her sons rented a huge dumpster and hauled things out and just threw them in.  My poor friend was horrified.  She was actually traumatized.  It was horrible to watch her and I had nightmares when I got home. 

When I left and I cried for my friend on my long three hour drive home.  I remember she didn't want help...but she did.  I would ask if I could do this or that..and she would sort of panic.  It showed in her face.  She cried and cried.  She got mad at me and another friend that was attempting to help her.  She went though a hell of her own when it was all happening.  Finally, with the help of two of her sons, she put everything in storage and that was five or six years ago and it is all still there and she pays good money every month to keep it.  I ask, now and then, why she doesn't sell some of it..but she says she can't get it out of storage.  It is packed too tightly in there.  Thousands of dollars are being spent on the unit..and she probably always will.  I have stopped asking about her plans...as much as I can.  Every now and then I bring it up and kick myself for doing so...because I know she cannot help herself.  I know that.  But it never fails to frighten me and make me look at myself...and once again dump stuff.

After I went through this with her...I went home.  I got into my things and began throwing away things.  Keepsakes.  Things I had kept from high school.  I felt like this at the time...I felt that if it was all going to be thrown in the dump...I..wanted to be the one to do it.
And so...I dumped things.  Things that I thought I should not keep any longer.  Some things I set gently into the trash bin outside and cried.  IT WAS THAT BAD!  I didn't, I couldn't, even end up in that situation.  This was my way of preventing it. 

Later, one of my daughters found out and was so upset.  She was irrate and said that it should have been left up to her and her sisters to decide about things like that.  I guess they wanted to enjoy and remember things...and now it is all gone.  It's done and I cannot undo it. 

I realize that I should have just stuck to old clothing, knick knacks, whatever..but I was in a panic after experiencing what I did.  Watching the pain my friend was in. 
Yes, there is a difference...I know that.  But seeing something like that can really have an effect on you when you are a person that saves...and loves your keepsakes, old letters greeting cards that friends, your children, your family, your husband, have all sent to you over the years.  I am sorrier than I can even begin to express in words.  I did keep my children's baby teeth.  I did at least keep those. 

So...just be care what you toss.  I really must, however, get rid of stuff in that shed and in  my garage. 
My dining room chairs that my children sat on when they were growing up are overhead in the garage taking up space.  We have two sets now and I cannot bring myself to get rid of them.   I just cannot.

So...that's all I have to say about that.  Shows like that can really evoke panic in a person who loves her things.  I KNOW those are extreme cases but my dear friend was approaching a place where I do not see how she could function in every day life.  They say that the rule of thumb is "if you haven't used it in two years, get rid of it" or some such thing. 
I think keep sakes such as what I threw away in a total panic...is a different story.  It's too late for me..but not for someone out there who just might catch that show...and panic!
Hugs to you,

The giveaway is below...wanna help me not be a hoarder???  :)


  1. What a sad story...about your friend! But I can relate to what you did, too. I got rid of so many things that I probably should have kept. But even as I write that I think....and WHERE would I have put it! lol It's hard to make the decisions when you are 'in the mood' to clean out or when you start over. I try not to think about stuff I wish I still had and having read this about your friend...I think I'll go get a bag ready for Goodwill! Enjoy your day, sweet friend! ♥ Thanks for sharing! ♥

  2. Such a sad story. When I downsized I had to really make some tough decisions about what to give away. My mom did a cleaning out several years ago when she was in a bad frame of mind after my grandmother passed away. She is still upset about some of the things she gave away that she should have saved or at least passed on to me or my SIL. It can be a fine line and your post really points out the difference.

    Thanks for sharing.

    ~ Tracy

  3. Sweet Friend,

    Do NOT beat yourself up. We all do things that we regret. Now you know that before you get rid of "stuff" just call your daughters.

    It's okay - we mess up. Everyone messes up at times. (o: And you are a blessing to your friend.


  4. Oh Mona, they say it really is a sickness and something that stems from something very deep inside a person. I am so sorry you tossed precious keepsakes, but I am even more sorry for your friend that can't seem to let go of anything. I have a garage that desperately needs to have a bunch of old paperwork shredded, other than that, I think if I don't want it or the kids don't want it then it is off to the GW. Great post. Thanks. Hugs, Marty

  5. Mona I have a friend like the one you posted about...her hubs got real sick 25 years ago and she statred buying and stacking until you can not get into her house...their is only a path way to the bathroom now...Well her hubs just died on the 11th and she is so paniced now as people will be coming in Nov for a memorial for him and she can't let them in her house...and she won't get rid of a thing..most of the stuff is still in bages and she haven't seen it in years..what a shame girl...I offered to go stay with her and help her...but again I'm afraid it will hurt her if I try and help clean it up...what to do girl?? my heart just breaks for her...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  6. Hi Mona,
    My job takes me into homes that are so bad that you would not believe it! Most of it is due to poverty but often they just don't seem to have a clue on how to take care of a home.
    I know with the hoarding that they can be helped with anti-depressants and counseling. But of course the person needs to want the help first.
    Keeping keepsakes and such is not the same as hoarding and living in filth. Honestly, I went into a home last week that had some kind of wild animal living upstairs. The therapist and I were so spooked! The downstairs was so filthy there was really nothing but black.
    So yes, there really is a major difference.
    Hugs to you,
    Great Post too,

  7. Mona, I understand how you felt after actually seeing that in person, much more real than watching the shows on TV. I always tell my husband it has to be a sickness when they will not even throw away trash. It is so sad to see it. I do have lots of clutter and like you, I don't wish my daughter to have to go thru it. But in saying that, I am 53 and hope to stay around until nearly 100 so I will keep most of my clutter for right now. Love your posts Mona!

  8. Mona, this was so like you to be so sweet to someone who really needed a friend. You didn't let her "illness" keep you away. Bless your heart... and hers.
    I'm sorry about your keepsakes. Surely you have plenty more saved for your kids. Try not to dwell on it. You thought you were doing the right thing.
    Excellent writing. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Ladybug Creek

  9. Wonderful post and my dear, you are no where close to those shows...not even a mile close.

    I find myself saving a piece of cardboard to paint on or a container with a lid and when I get a pile and have not used them...out they go but I still have plenty of stuff.

    We have a women's shelter with a safe house that takes donations for setting up new house holds and for things they need in the shelter. If they cannot use it, it goes in their shop to sell for things they do need. I find I can part with things knowing they will be put to good use.

  10. Hi Mona...I'm not much of a saver. When I moved to my home here in Byron, after marrying Joe...After I packed the things that I wanted then ...I opened my house up to my kids and told them to come and take everything that they wanted.They took so many things. I now enjoy going to their houses and seeing all my things being used. Especially at Christmas. My son has about 1/2 of my Christmas stuff. I love seeing my little grandkids eyes light up when they see Grandma's ornaments on the tree. We sit and reminise about the "old" days.I really didn't toss anything, but found someone who really could use things and wanted them. Your pictures are all so beautiful...your house is beautifully decorated. You don't have to worry about being like these people on TV. Balisha

  11. I had a room-mate when I was in my early thirties. She was not a hoarder, but her countertops were always filled with dishes, both dirty and clean, bags, receipts, purse, new stuff, old stuff.. her bedroom was the same. Just looking at it exhausted me and I had to just move out... couldn't take it.

  12. Mona - I think that I could be like your friend, as she is now. I feel frozen when I try to get rid of things - but I don't want it junking up my house, so I have tons of stuff that is stored away. Things that I don't need or even remember. But it's hard to throw out things that meant something to me at one point. I have that fear that one day I'll miss those things. My poor daughter will have it to do one day, I guess!

    Best, Kim

  13. Interesting! I have seen programmes on TV about this condition, namely a Canadian lady helps people to downside their junk; treating them kindly and sincerely. Tears are shed (by me too, I add) but eventually order is restored to chaos. One of the things I remember from it was a man who collected lava lamps. He had lots of them. The presenter (made) asked him to get rid of most of them, but just keep his favourite three. This is what he did. They sat on a shelf and could be admired by all that came to his house. It is not the number of things that a person has but what they have.
    We all have this tendency up to a point but most of us can control it. Sometimes I am a hoarder and other times I want to clear everything out and start again.
    Blessings, Star

  14. Thanks so much for sharing this post...it truly is a sickness in so many ways...your poor dear friend....stuff can really take over our lives at times...I tend to weed every so often...so I don't feel so guilty about bringing something else home....thanks for the advice for what we should and should not part with in a hast....blessings

  15. What a sad story about Your friend! It´s awful when things gets out of control like that.

    But I kind of think that You did the right thing to throw away all those things You did! It´s impossible to save all the things someone else might want one day.

    I have too little space in my cottage to save anything :-) :-) I have one closet and last winter a mice got in there and destroyed most of what I had there :-) :-) :-)

    Have a great day now!

  16. I have been in those shoes. After 30+ years of doing craft shows almost weekly (the $$ were half of our income) I ended up with 2 forty foot storage buildings, a 76 foot house trailer, full of fabric, flowers (silk), trims, baskets, glass or china containers, wood (painted or to be painted), shelving, work tables, hundreds of boxes and containers of stuff, the remains of 2 grandmothers estates, furniture, pictures, frames, you name it and I probably had some somewhere. I lived with my parents most of my life (since I never married while they were alive). First my father died in 2000 and then my mother in 2005. When mother died I had Daddy's aircraft salvage business, my stuff, my Mother's stuff, the 2 estates, 4 acres of aircraft junk (scrap metal), a 100 ft building, a 75 ft building, my 2 storage buildings, a 76 ft trailer, and a 2000 sq ft double wide house trailer to go thru, decide what to keep, what to get rid of, what would sell, what to haul to the dump, all in 5 months while working a full time job. And don't forget that was the year of all the hurricanes. To say I nearly had a nervous breakdown is to put it mildly. I think not only did I have a breakdown I also had a mild heart attack. Something physical as well as mental happened. If I had not had one friend, Rheba, I would have committed suicide. I survived. Rheba kept me on track, picked up the pieces when I fell appart, prayed over me, fed me when I wouldn't take the time to eat. When my brothers sold the property she gave me a place to live with her while I was having my dble wide moved and she helped me heal. She helped me walk away from things I could not change, to accept what was left and to try to put my life, not back together, but to create a new life. I still have too much stuff. There are things I kept that I should have thrown away and things I left that I should have kept. I survived. I have now made a new life for myself. I met a man at the age of 62 and married for the first time last year. I am still getting rid of stuff. I am still unpacking boxes that I moved in 2005. I don't have to go to yard sales or thrift stores just unpack boxes to go 'shopping'. He has helped me and supported me thru slowly getting rid of more stuff. It is really hard because nearly every thing has some kind of memory attached. But I am getting there. Personally I think that collecting stuff, keeping stuff and not wanting to let go of stuff is a tranference of feelings and emotions, judging ones self worth with things. I think one of my problems was I was clinging to a life I had to let go of. It was worse than any addiction could possibly be. I am still healing. I won't be totally healed until I get rid of every thing that I DO NOT NEED, when the house and the storage building I have are totally cleaned out. Then I will feel I am finally totally healed.
    God's Love to all of you,

  17. I have also posted about this subject and the tv shows. Hubby and I both come from families who have a tought time letting go of things. I already feel overwhelemed with the amount of "things" in our house and on our property. I am working on it though! It hasn't reached the point of the tv shows but it gets's frustrating when there is no flat surface to set something down on! No room to put things away in closets!

    It think the key is to not give the same value or importance to everything. If we see evrything our family has owned or our friends have given us as being absolutely precious we end up with so much we can't even find the things we say are important.

    I'm trying to go through and find the things that REALLY mean the most and display them or use them and let go of things that are holding us back. It's hard!

    I've got to get my morning started but I'll get back to you later. Have to find a box in all this to mail that little witch in. Did you know I'm having a giveaway too? LOL!

  18. I am so glad that you were there to support your friend when she needed you most. What a tough and terrifying experience it must have been for her to have to let go of everything all at once.

    I am so sorry that this experience caused you to do something in haste. That is water under the bridge now and you can't go back. But you certainly can go forward and know how to choose differently next time. I know your children love you no matter what they said that day.

    I truly think the people that are on that Hoarders show have a medical problem, just as an alcoholic does. They are unable to control that part of their life. They can not see the difference between what is important to keep and what they need to get rid of. It is so sad and it tears families apart. They need help and often don't get it, because it's something they hide.

    Holding on to garbage is so sad. On the other hand , keeping some of the special things your children made for you is wonderful. Save the family photos and the quilt grandma made for you. Get rid of clothes that don't fit and the excess holiday decor you bought at Target.

    Ask yourself.... If your house were to burn down tomorrow, what 25-30 things would you want to make sure you got out? Keep those things. The rest really doesn't matter. Seriously. And in the end we can't take any of it with us.

    No, I am not saying to get rid of everything you own and go live like a hermit in a cave. Just trying to make a point so that people know how to prioritize the importance of things. The things we have in our home should bring you joy and make your family and friends feel loved and welcome. If your home doesn't feel that way, it is time to take a good hard look at yourself and make some changes.

    My own sister tends to have some issues with getting rid of things... and she recently hired a professional organizer to come to her home and help her go through everything. It helped her to have a neutral person there with her, to help her decide if it was important or not. She told me it took her nearly a year to go through her whole house, drawer by drawer, closet by closet, room by room. The organizer would come once a week and leave her with a homework assignment. She is so glad she went through this process and feels so much better about her home now.

    Hugs to you Mona.

  19. Oh my gosh Mona, I know how you must have felt after seeing your friend's home and I have gone through some of that myself. I get these twidges of panic that I have too much stuff and then I start dumping. I think that blogging made my sightly crazed at first because I wanted one of everything I saw. I started haunting thrift shops, etc. Then when we moved I realized I had soooo much. Now I am trying to scale back and focus on things that I really love. If I don't love it, I can let it go...but if it has a memory tied to it, forget about it! It stays! LOL.


  20. Hi!
    I had your birthday on my calendar and came over to wish you a happy birthday! (You are probably wondering "who is this lady??") We "talked" a few months ago, about age, etc.

    I got involved reading this post, then I read all the comments! Very interesting! I'm not a hoarder, but I am sentimental and love to save things! After seeing one of Oprah's shows about a hoarder, I've had a fear I could become one, but seriously doubt it! My house is pretty much organized and orderly, but I do have a lot of stuff, probably too much! And I like my stuff and want it!! LOL!

    I think you and I also discussed the death of both of my neighbors dying and leaving everything in their house. They had no children, and only her sister, a niece and nephew who came, but didn't take much back with them.

    Yesterday and today a hired person is holding and estate sale. I went and it was so sad. She died suddenly (had gone in for a heart cath and didn't survive the surgery.) Her house was left as if she would be back any time.

    All this has made me THINK what if that was me!! I have two children, four grandchildren, and husband has two children. I have a sister and lots of nieces and nephews that I hope will want and take some of my "treasures," but it still has bothered me so much.

    I was glad to hear your advice about not throwing out some treasured things.

    This is getting way too long, so I'll cut it short!

    Have a wonderful birthday!!


  21. Hi...just catching up on reading after several weeks in Thailand and Vietnam. I have a sister-in-law in New Zealand who is a hoarder. It is very sad. Every time we come home from visiting NZ I get in a decluttering mood. I could NEVER let myself get to that point although I think I have some of those tendencies. Sometimes I'll clean out a box of papers and ask myself why ANY of those papers are going back in the box...just to go through them again in five years? What a waste of time. I read a book several years ago called "Clutter's Last Stand" which was a well written book about how to start getting rid of stuff in a good way. I learned that we should keep the memory and not necessarily the object. Such are the chairs your children sat in....objects. You can't possibly keep every chair your children ever sat in...how about a photo of them in those chairs? How about getting them to sit in those chairs TODAY and photographing them and then selling them? What good are they doing in the rafters? That would be the advice from the book that helped me. (I should talk...I have TWO wicker child's chairs my daughter sat in ..one of them in bad shape that I've kept...and can't part with although I'm getting ready to get rid of one of them. They other one is in her room with a teddy bear in it and a baby quilt I made her.) On one of those hoarder shows the host found things the owner did not want to throw away as she said "they were my father's and I can't throw them away"....to which the host replied..."if this is so special why is it under tons of junk? If you honor this, put it in a place of honor".....NOT in a box....NOT hidden. If my house/garage/storage shed are cluttered I find that my brain is also cluttered..like it is full of cobwebs....can't stand that. Honor the things that mean something...take a photo of the rest and remember that it is the MEMORY...NOT THE OBJECT that is important. Maybe a scrapbook of those objects would be a good idea for us all...takes up less space,too!


Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts! Your comments are very important to me.