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What to do with it??

(Don't get me wrong.. loads of it has already been donated.. and it has been culled through.. and this is the stuff I didn't donate or toss.

This is the stuff I saved.... heaven help me.)

I need to take our spare room back.... but Mom's & some of Dad's stuff is in there... still. (We won't even talk about the garage....yet.)

Since closing on the house in late Oct.... the holidays were right there and I still was working on the paperwork and nuts & bolts of the estate.. right up until late Dec. And all the while.. I just kept closing the door to the room. If I needed anything in there... I ran in.. got it.. ran out.. closed the door. I really need and the kids really need that room back.

Can I just say I don't wanna???

How can I throw something out and not feel a twinge of guilt??

How can I say "Why did I save this???!!" and not feel a twinge of guilt??

Today was the first day I walked in there, with the purpose of starting to clean it up.

I mean I'm unpacking boxes... going through.. tossing again... saving again... re-wrapping in newspaper.. putting "stuff" in smaller boxes....

I feel like I didn't get anywhere. And..It's overwhelming.

And this is the STUFF... I haven't even started on the paperwork yet!

(Paperwork>>> ugh...I'm not totally sure what to save and what not to save as far as that goes.. I've checked out some sites.. but truly.. I haven't found a whole lot of info out there on what to save from an estate. But I know I can't save it all...)

I have a real strong urge to shut the door and pretend it all isn't in there... But it has been almost 13 months.. and well... I gotta do it.

Is there an easier way?? Any tricks????

Can someone write me a note to excuse me from this???

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One thing I did was give some of my moms dearest friends some of her things. They treasured them and I knew my mom would be happy that they were happy and wouldn't have minded me doing this.

The paperwork...I'm still working on that too! I know what you mean about not getting any good, solid info on what to save and what can go. I have boxes and boxes of things to shred and they just sit there. I'm worn out, so I've ignored them. But someday I'm going to have to get at it. Is there any place else you can store some of these things? Maybe even rent a small storage unit? It's a hard task to deal with all this!

I remember a movie where the mother had died and one of her daughters knocked her moms favorite bowl off the counter and broke it. She was horrified and her sister said to her, "Don't worry about it" and the sister said, "But that was moms favorite bowl" and her sister replied, "She doesn't need it anymore". I think of that often, and sometimes when I do throw something out, I always say, "well, mom, you don't need this anymore." It's like it's a comforting thought that they are free and don't need material things anymore.

Good luck with your "cleaning out"!



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Thanks Ladies.

Well, I really do not want to "store" anymore than is already "stored" in the basement, garage.. etc. I have already given things to people who were close to her. So what I am talking about is the stuff that is left.

We tried to go through things a bit at a time at the house while it was still listed on the market. We figured the furniture had to stay while it was for sale.. but we decided it could be "empty" furniture.. so we got to it. It was difficult in a way because my sibling lives hundreds of miles away. I did as much as I could on my own and took digital photos of things and we emailed alot back & forth. When she could come down.. we squeezed as much sorting as we could into the time we had. By the time all was said & done with the closing.. we had split up the stuff she wanted and the stuff I wanted.. (without any angst or anything.. we did real good there). Now each of my kids has storage containers with stuff they wanted for their future households and those are stored away in the basement. And she literally did rent a storage space for her stuff. We can't afford that though.

So this stuff is just what is left... plus a few things my sibling wasn't quite ready to decide on just yet. Those things I found yesterday and put all together in a smaller box. That I will store.

The rest of it...I dunno.

Marty those links you offered... I actually had the thought yesterday while in that room.. "Maybe I should make something out of ALL of these hankerchiefs." There are MANY... and some are very pretty and look brand new. Maybe I can make something up for the kids with them.

And the "Sorting" piece you posted: The fact that it takes so long.. that I identified with!

But,I get into a different mind set when it is the paperwork. I don't tend to get emotional when I'm dealing with that. It's kinda like a "job" to me that has to be done. I close all of that emotional stuff out I guess when I'm working on it.. otherwise.. I couldn't think. And I have to be able to think. The paperwork is easier in that way to me. There is no emotion attached to it. So that's why I think I'm having a harder time with the stuff.. because that I have emotions with. I figured it would be harder so that is why I chose to do the 'stuff' first.

And Shell.. the line from the movie you saw IS helpful. And I know I will recall that over & over again while I'm at this task.. so thanks.

For example: No.. Mom doesn't need her purse anymore. I bought that purse for her as a gift. And now one would think it was something offensive. I just look at it and try not to touch it.. weird. I had to go through it right after she passed to get out things like her appointment cards so I could cancel all of her Doc appts. and I needed other things out of it obviously too.. but I related that to "paperwork" and just did what I had to. I was "in the zone" of being all responsible for all of the official tasks.

All of that official stuff is now over.

And.. the purse is empty and just sitting there. I "should" throw it out... which would definitely entail me laying a hand on it. :rolleyes:

Sounds silly I guess. But I'm not "in the zone" of responsibility anymore. I have done that and did it well as far as I can tell.

Now it seems I'm just in the "emotional & painful zone". And I'd rather be "sailing".. or something.. anything else...

I finally have the time for the emotions and now I don't want them. It is paralyzing..and almost humorous. I just stare at a box... I gingerly lift it's lid and literally peek in there, like whatever is in it is about to attack me. lol

So I have to weigh how much I don't want to store this stuff against how much emotion I can and am willing to spend right now.

But the bottom line I think is.. I want this portion of the loss "over" and.. what I think you are saying is.. and I already knew I suppose.. I can't treat this like it was "paperwork" and just plow through it emotionally unscathed.

I'm gonna be scathed. No getting around that..

I'll let you know how I make out if you want.


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By all means, yes, Leeann, please do let us know how this continues to go for you. You're very detailed in how you describe your processing of all of this, and I think your discoveries and insights are quite helpful. I'm very grateful for your honesty and your willingness to share your experiences with the rest of us.

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Pretty soon i will have to go through exactly what you are going through right now. Its been almost two months since my mom died, and I haven't touched anything at her house. I moved in with my dad, and I still have my mom's purse right here by my desk. I have her clean laundry folded and in a basket at the end of my bed, and her slippers are next to the dresser. Her robe is haning on the door, and her "chemo" hat is on the laundry basket. I don't want to touch ANYTHING!

Like you, I had to go through my mom's purse (which was a gift from me) and get out her official stuff like driver's liscence, appt. cards, etc. I felt weird going through her purse, and I still don't want to. There's even money in there still!!!

I am graduating in May, and that is when I plan to go through the house. There are five bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room, and game room. Plus the basement and attic and garage. It is all the exact same as the day mom went into the hospital. Dirty dishes in the sink, clothes in the hamper, her bed isn't even made. THe only differnce is that my mom's best friend came over and helped me go through the food in the kitchen so it wouldn't go bad. Her friend also went ahead and went through the medicine cabinet and dumped all the pain meds, etc. She threw out mom's tooth brush and hair brush. At the time it seemed ok, but now I wish I had those things...weird, I know. I found a clump of mom's hair the other day from when it started to fall out. I kept it and put it in a book. It just didn't seem right to throw it away.

Anyways, I hope that you are able to get through everything. If you want to share any of your experiences with us, please do. We just have to press on.


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Hey Drew.. I have an idea.. I'll help you and you help me. How about that? LOL

And we'll eventually "git 'er done".

Ya know though... I wouldn't be shy about maybe asking your Mom's friend to help you a bit when the time comes. My sis actually brought a friend down with her one time and she was great. She asked about everything before she touched it. Plus we just kept giving her tasks and she just did them quietly.

I remember when we moved into this house we are in now,I had help unpacking from some cousins and friends.

It was only about 6 months after my Dad had passed. And my one cousin picked up something to unpack and said "Why on earth did you save this?!"

And I'll tell ya.. I just blurted out that my Dad had given me that and I wasn't ready to part with it yet. The tears instantly fell down my face and she apologized and hugged me. She just wasn't thinking... BUT she did for the rest of that day!

So speak up if you have help. The best thing might be for you to think about particular jobs you are comfortable with her handling ahead of time... like packing up not often used glassware or other stuff that isn't so personal.

I think helpers do better and we do better with them when we kind of assign them specific stuff to do.

I think if I had been you, I too would have kept the lock of her hair. You might want to keep it someplace special or even put it in something nice later on.

I'll keep ya posted on how I am doing then Marty.

And Shell.. I know I have found a few websites about paperwork.. so I'll try to find them and post the links for you.


(See this thread for those links:

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=2936 )

This task of going through stuff is just different. I can't focus soley on someone or something else like I could with the house sale (like keeping the young couple buying it on my mind)or I do with the paperwork. This is mine and it is emotional.

I did accomplish something. I just put things that I decided to keep and use right where I keep similiar things in my house. For example we used her steak knives at dinner etc. (I apparently have used ours as screwdrivers one too many times and the tips were all broken.. lol)

But Mom would have liked that. She was into things having a purpose and really using them.. not just displaying them or packing them away as something too good to use. So I feel I have actually accomplished somethings. But 'miles to go before I sleep'. But I think it is important somehow to think about what I have already been able to do. Maybe that will help me press on as Drew said.

This is my grief and I guess I better own it and one way I can do that is to go through this stuff.



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I lived with my mom and dad, so the house is still the same basically as when they died. I have just recently replaced two things we had hanging on the wall with new things that I liked better and I even felt somewhat guilty doing that. We moved into this house about 25 years ago and my mom and I picked out things together, so I like all the things in our house and don't feel any need to change it. That part of it is lucky and makes it somewhat easier.

The hard part is my parents bedroom. Again, a lot of the stuff are things I got them for presents and also like, so I have left it the same. My moms purse is still right where she always kept it, I still have their toothbrushes and toothpaste in their bathroom drawer, etc. I know that I could make better use of that room if I changed it, but I just can't right now. The hardest part was that my mom had c-diff, which is very contagious, so after she died I felt I had to throw away her pillows and other items I couldn't sanitize. That was heartbreaking.

But, ya know, making just one little change at a time, or throwing out one thing is a start and I think someday we will all get to the point where we are ready to throw out a bit more and on and on.

leeann, I would greatly appreciate the links about the paperwork! I have a lot I know I can shred, but am really unsure about others.

Hang in there, we will get it accomplished eventually, when the time is right!



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I had to smile when you asked if someone could give you a note to excuse you from having to do this. I would happily give you a note, but then I am not sure who you would give it too.

My mom died Dec.06, that same time my dad went into the hospital and we knew he would not be coming home. We decided to sell their house and things went so quickly. I had to get it ready to sell and then pack up everything after it sold. It is all a blur. I gave away everything, and I mean everything. I was numb, and now I realize it was a mistake. I went to my cousin's house last month and was shocked when I walked in, it was like walking into my parent's living room. I did not remember who , had what. I dont regret that my cousin has these things, I just realize I did it all too soon and too fast. I am glad most of the things went to my relatives. But, I kept very little for myself and I regret that. I too have a few boxes in my basement that I am afraid to open the top. I peek too! My mom was not sentimental about clothing and I know she would be pleased that I donated all of her clothing. Although I saw a guilt that was made out of a loved ones favorite clothing and all the grandchildren had one. That would have been nice.

Drew- when you get ready to go thru your mom's house. Take the advice given earlier. Have people there with you. My aunt and cousin were with me day after day and although we cried and cried, we also found things to smile and even laugh about. It made it much easier. One thing that made us laugh, we discovered my mom ordered the silliest gadgets from tv and none of them worked! We never knew she did this!

I meant "quilt" not "guilt"....sorry.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks so much shell.

I have gotten even further along. I emptied three boxes of stuff and was able to put the remaining things into one.

I also started going through some old paperwork. And currently I have one box of that done. I separated things out that had to be shredded and threw the rest away. (It was amazing to me how many older documents have SS#'s on them!)

And I think you are right shell.. not thinking too long about each thing helps. I followed my gut and kept going thing by thing.

Sure I cried... but I kept going while I was crying.

Once I got done with the stuff.. I moved onto the paperwork thinking I was doing well and the tough stuff & tears were behind me... turns out.. not quite.

I was doing great til I found a simple grocery store receipt amongst bank statements. The grocery store went out of business years ago. And I knew that they had touched it and which parent had bought what was on it. And would you believe, that silly little receipt set me off crying again. It IS the little stuff sometimes that takes you by surprise.

But I just kept working while I cried.

Before I was thinking that crying was a signal to stop working on it and ya know.. it doesn't have to be.

I'm not finished.. and I still have the garage to get through.. but that spare room looks a whole lot better already.

Thanks for the support.


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Good for you! I know what you mean about the papers. I was sitting there shredding and crying my eyes out because I felt like I was just shredding our lives. It truly is the little things that get to you. But, as you said, crying doesn't mean you have to stop. I've cried through so many things, I can't imagine sometimes how I did them. I even learned I could still drive while sobbing! Not a good idea, but it can be done. Keep up the good work and just throw, throw, throw! And, remember, don't think too much....go blank!

A big hug,


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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm back again...

I got through some more "stuff" today. This time it was the garage stuff. I

was able to reduce 6 boxes to 4 and maybe 3 by the end of tomorrow.

I tried not to think too much and to be realistic. Some things.. especially kitchen stuff I thought might not be safe for today's use. Some of the casserole dishes were made before I was born and I doubt are dishwasher (Mom never di have any other dishwasher but her two hands and ours..lol) or microwave safe. Out they went... So I was thinking but.. not over thinking things too much... I hope.

I had a few tough moments...

One was opening a box and unwrapping a jar candle. It was a rude surprise as I remember lighting that particular candle the night I found her dead in an attempt to get "the smell" out of the house. It was like being slapped in the face without warning when I opened it up.

But.. here's the not thinking too much part..

I just thought.. hey we had simliar tastes as far scents went and I love the scent of that candle... So I kept it and put it with other ones I have. I figured.. instead of that candle leaving a negative and sad impression forever on me... that perhaps in the near future I will be able to look at it as something Mom and I shared in common. A good memory of something we shared.

Yeah whenever I see that candle I could choose to focus on it's last use.. OR I can ALSO choose to look at it as a lovely connection I shared with Mom.

So it will get used in this house and I will try to look at it as something good not bad... something that reminds me of her in a postive way... That candle was lit when we went to visit her last before she died.. only a week before and we had a great visit as usual... and I choose to focus on that.. instead of the sadness and trauma of that night I found her.

I have choices...I have choices about how I think about things & "stuff".


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You are doing a great job and should be proud of yourself! You brought up an important point. We all have choices and it really does depend on how we choose to look at things. Your attitude of changing a negative into a positive is wonderful. I've found myself doing the same type of thing and it really has helped. I think it takes awhile to reach that point, but it's something for all of us to think about.



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Thanks Shell. Yeah I agree it either takes a lot of time and/or alot of deaths.

Thimbles.... got several of them... but since I don't have a prayer of figuring out how to use her sewing machine anytime soon.. I expect the the thimbles will come in handy. :)

Whoo boy..

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  • 1 month later...

Ok.. Maybe my timing was less than great... but today I got done with going through ALL of the paperwork. The things I needed to save are packed neatly away. There are no more boxes in the spare room!

Yup I cried some and I will cry some more. But... I did it!

I have some paint samples to look at so we can re-do that room as a hang out zone for the kids when they have a friend over. I can't wait to start that now.

So I consider my efforts as my Mother's Day gift to them and... myself.


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  • 2 weeks later...

The spare room....

Wallpaper is down... spackle is up and some painter's tape is up...

Today was my Birthday. They didn't forget....

I felt them near me as soon as I awoke.

That was the best gift & I needed it &... they knew that.

Amazing and sad all at the same time...

But I'm grateful.


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Hi All,

I did not have a choice when dealing with most of my parents things my died in april of 2005 and my dad in august of 2005 and the house was all emptied and sold by october 2005... I got to keep things that would fit in my new storage area which was not too big so there were many things that were taken from me that I really wanted but could not keep... I do not think that I will ever forgive them for doing this on me... So I would ask you to think about it before you do anything because once it is gone it is gone forever... take care Shelley

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Hi Leeann,

I realize it now that stuff is just stuff but seeing it just given away really hurt... I know we could not keep it all but it happen so very quickly... I mean mom died in april, dad died in august and the house was cleaned out and sold by october... I do not even think there bodies were even cold yet that how it felt... Things that meant alot to my parents my family came in and just throw into boxes... I do not know but I could see my parents the way things were handled just screaming from their graves.... Take care Shelley

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Hmmm it is odd how we are all different.

See for me?? I was happy to see others get use of the things we couldn't use or had no room for. And I know my folks would have been very pleased that their things were still needed and now still being used by others.

My folks had the same thinking as I do about stuff too. They knew it/stuff wasn't the most important thing in life.

Of course there were a some things that I knew meant very much to them here, while they were with us, that I had no choice but to discard. And yes I felt badly having to throw those things out.

Now though.. I try to look back on that with the thinking that Shell shared on the first page of this thread.

"They don't need it anymore." And no they don't need those things anymore where they are now. And I believe they now don't even concern themselves with things they left behind here. And that is how I choose to think about their things now.

But, again, I'm choosing to focus on the positives. The things I was able to donate or give to others makes me feel good and I know it would have made them feel good. I choose not to focus my attention only on the negatives.

Reality dictates one can only possess so much stuff. We can't save everything. Nor do I think it is healthy to save more than what one can easily store.

For me hanging onto their things that I couldn't use or store would have been/was burdensome and it would/was creating some negatives in my life. So... I worked on sorting it and donating or giving as much as was possible away. And that made me feel good about it all. I gained so much by getting rid of it in a manner that I know they would have been pleased with. And I know they would understand why I tossed what I did.

In a way, I look at your family as a bit lucky in that they were able to accomplish the selling of the house in a short time. It is very hard to try to fully maintain more than your own household. Things break, service people have to be hired to attend to them and one has to be there to supervise any work being done. Lawns need to be mowed, leaves raked, sidewalks and driveways shovelled etc. It is a LOT of work. A true burden when one doesn't & can't live there. Double the workload when one has their own house and property to maintain. The longer the double workload goes on... the more waring and exhausting the whole process is.

Plus.. I found...having the house on the market and hanging over my head can hold up the processing of probate. Which in turn can hold up the grieving. And grieving has to be done ... has to be... and the sooner the better I think.

So I look at it that yes.. of course it was sad to have to throw some things out and sell the house ( I only wish we could have sold in the time your family was able to!) But it was a very heavy weight for me and I was glad to have it finally lifted.

Your siblings probably did the best they could. And they & you were lucky & blessed to have each other. People who are trying to do something like that on their own must be so overwhelmed. I had my sis helping me.. but she lived hundreds of miles away. She exhausted herself going back & forth as much as she did. Most of everything did fall to me. But I knew that was bothering her too. She would have loved to be able to be with me through every step. But.. that just wasn't possible. So it was a relief to her and me when we finally closed on the house.

We needed that to move on and forward. We needed to focus on the future and more positive things. Simply.. it was time.. that's it.

Life and death... on life and death terms. No way one can avoid that.

I'm sorry you seem so very upset with your siblings.. but maybe try seeing things from their perspective.. It may help you feel better and move forward more easily yourself.


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Hi Leeann,

I know you are trying to help but you did not know my siblings and they did not care for my parents they all left long ago... They came for visits when mom asked but just because of that once they were gone I do not see any of them except the sister I live with and we have started to fight more often too... I brother left the country and did not tell anyone... I found out from a total stranger... So when they cleaned out the house it was just garbage and a job they were stuck with... I hope this does not hurt any feelings but I need people to understand me.... shelley

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Of course I do not your siblings. And I know we can't choose them. :)

And we kind of have to either accept them as they are, especially since, we would like them to accept us as we are.

I have learned trying to walk a mile in someone else's shoes helps me to understand their thinking and motivations.

It doesn't necessarily make me agree with them. Just helps me to understand them and ultimately accept them and helps me forgive any of their behavior that may have hurt me.

I can't change them.

I can only change my thinking about them.

But I can change me and my thinking.

I know everyone needs & deserves to be understood... including folks that we don't necessarily agree with.

I have learned resentment hurts only me. And it isn't worthy of me or my time and emotions. It stops me from moving forward on my journey.

Author Gary Zukav's work has helped me many times. His book "Seat of the Soul" is a great resource to help me on my journey here.

Here's a quote I found from it that helped me learn about forgiveness. He says what I am trying to say.. really MUCH better than I ever could! :)

So here it is.. and I hope it helps you too.

"Forgiveness is not about condoning another's hurtful actions, it is about releasing your negative emotions and perceptions about the painful events. Otherwise you keep yourself chained to those events or people - you keep it alive within you - and you carry it with you where-ever you go. It is a very heavy burden to carry around and you end up crippling yourself emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.

Holding on to anger, resentment, etc. keeps you in 'victim' mode - powerless. It means you are letting those people who have hurt you in the past dictate who you are in the present moment. You can take your power back by releasing these negative emotions and no longer let them hold sway over your thoughts, feelings and actions.

Only you are responsible for what you do, think and feel. You can choose to hold on to painful events, like a weight around your neck, or you can choose to remove that burden by releasing it (giving it no more emotional energy and therefore power) and living a happier life despite past circumstances. In other words... let the past be in the past, and live in the now moment. You can't change what happened in the past, but you have choice over how you live now.

When you assume responsibility for what you experience

and share what you experience in a spirit of companionship,

that is the same as forgiveness.

When you hold someone responsible for what you experience,

you lose power."



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