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Patricia B

Cleaning Out The Closet---What can I expect?

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Lost George suddenly and unexpectedly June 3, 2017. 9 months ago. I can hardly believe it's been that long ago.  I have yet to clean out the closet. I periodically get mail from Vietnam Vets announcing a pick-up day. They particularly need clothing. The last one just came with a pick-up date of March 15th. I know my husband would approve of this. He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam Era. Just typing this post, I notice that my teeth are clenching and anxiety is rising. I feel I should do it this time. At least partially. My question is...what should I expect? What have been your experiences?  Have I waited a long time or is this common? I THINK that it will be difficult, but that after its done there will be some relief and sense of accomplishment.

Please Share....

Pat

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Pat, my experience: even sooner than you, probably 4-5 ms, I hired a person to help me with Susan's clothes, donating them to a few shelters etc. She went through them and bagged them very efficiently but I was there to say save anything with a special memory, like being a gift from me, something from a special vacation, something with turtles on it, something from her ballet dancing days, etc.  Result is I got rid of most of them but STILL have enough to be bombarded by memories if I go into the closet. Don't know what I will do with the "special" items. Wore her bathrobe some.

Of course I anticipated that going through the clothes would be horrible. I cried some but got through it OK. THEN after it was all done and my helper had left I had a major grief attack.

That was last summer so we didn't touch the winter coats, and I recently gave them to a women's community center, Rosie's place. I didn't want to anonymously give these beautiful coats, including gifts from me, away. I wanted it known they were from my Susan. So I had a friend who knew the staff help me. It was as good as it could be, she went with me, they told me how much the coats were appreciated and even gave us a little tour. I only choked up a few times during the whole time but again, when I got home, had a violent grief attack. It's the same pattern as when I cancelled Susan's phone line. I was OK while I was doing it, and when I was done I was walking around crying & repeating "I'm sorry I cancelled your phone" over and over. Just thinking about all this has me crying now.

Best wishes. FWIW I think it's good to not do it alone. And, my experience is that the major grief attack hits after, not during.

 

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Patricia, I donated all of Steve’s clothes except his leather jacket, a favorite shirt and one T shirt.  At some pint he must have donated his cowboy boots because they were gone.  Would have kept those as he looked dashing in the jacket and boots.

i can’t temember exactly when I did it, but it was well after a year.  One Saturday I just felt it was time and grabbed everything including the hangers and jammed them in my SUV.  I took them to a mission downtown that we always donate to.  No grief attack, it was OK to do for some reason.  Haven’t regretted it at all.

My advice?  Do not feel you have to do anything.  Do what you and he would feel right if or when you feel it.  Otherwise you are doing something you are not prepared for or ready.  You may never want to and that’s OK too.  It’s not like we need the room.  The clothes were always there.  

For me it is his placemat on the dinner table.  I tried twice to remove it and couldn’t, so it stays.  I had all mail moved to our home address and grappled with closing our PO Box.  I couldn’t do it.  It has been ours for so long and parting with the keys and daily trips to check are part of my routine.  He has been erased in so many ways legally and of course physically.  I cancelled his phone service but still have his phone plugged in where it always has been.  

Give yourself the gift of time.  There is nothing that cannot wait on personal stuff.  The only things I dosposed of immediately were medical supplies that were around the house.  That was a must do for me.  I couldn’t erase the memories, but I could remove the daily reminders of his suffering.  Even those I found a place to donate to after several months.  Please don’t add to your burden feeling you have to do anything now.  The very fact you are reacting with anxiety is a signal.  It may never be easy if or when you do, but listen to your heart.  

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4 hours ago, Patricia B said:

Lost George suddenly and unexpectedly June 3, 2017. 9 months ago. I can hardly believe it's been that long ago.  I have yet to clean out the closet. I periodically get mail from Vietnam Vets announcing a pick-up day. They particularly need clothing. The last one just came with a pick-up date of March 15th. I know my husband would approve of this. He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam Era. Just typing this post, I notice that my teeth are clenching and anxiety is rising. I feel I should do it this time. At least partially. My question is...what should I expect? What have been your experiences?  Have I waited a long time or is this common? I THINK that it will be difficult, but that after its done there will be some relief and sense of accomplishment.

Please Share....

Pat

It has been three years, and I have not even begun to go through my wife's clothes closet.  I admire those people who have the energy and mindset to do it.  Each of us is different.  I don't believe there is a magical or "right" time.  It is when you are ready to do it. 

I was able to donate my wife's makeup (I'll never use), the medical supplies, equipment, wheelchair, etc.. I donated or returned within a couple of weeks as they were harsh reminders of her illness and disability.  You will know when it is the right time for you. - Shalom

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15 hours ago, Patricia B said:

Lost George suddenly and unexpectedly June 3, 2017. 9 months ago. I can hardly believe it's been that long ago.  I have yet to clean out the closet. I periodically get mail from Vietnam Vets announcing a pick-up day. They particularly need clothing. The last one just came with a pick-up date of March 15th. I know my husband would approve of this. He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam Era. Just typing this post, I notice that my teeth are clenching and anxiety is rising. I feel I should do it this time. At least partially. My question is...what should I expect? What have been your experiences?  Have I waited a long time or is this common? I THINK that it will be difficult, but that after its done there will be some relief and sense of accomplishment.

Please Share....

Pat

Pat,

I am so sorry for your loss, yet I'm glad you've found your way here.  My husband George died June19, 2005, Father's Day, so almost 13 years ago.  I found this place soon after and it saved me, I kid you not.  July 4th, his closet rod broke, dumping all his clothes on the floor.  I picked them up and folded them and put them in boxes, cut a new rod for the closet, and a month or so later I donated his clothes to Sponsors, a place that helps inmates transition from prison life to civilian life.  They get out with the clothes on their backs, their families long gone, and since my husband always had a heart for the down-and-out-ers I knew he would want this.  He was always thinking of others.  Somehow I think we just know what we're to do and when we're to do it.  The answer will be unique for each of us, and the timeline different.  There is no right or wrong in how we handle it, just us doing what we feel they'd want when we are ready.  You can hang onto them for ten years and that's okay too.  I don't suppose I would have done it that soon had the closet rod not pushed me a bit.

 

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