Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have

Cleaning Up After Grieving


Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer's patient in No...

Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer’s patient in November 1901, first described patient with Alzheimer’s Disease. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 23rd will be the fourth anniversary of my mom’s death. She died in the hospital’s palliative care ward after only one month in hospital. Her diagnosis was early on-set Alzheimer’s disease but she died from dehydration/starvation-refusal to eat & drink. Reflecting back, I think she refused to eat and drink on purpose when she knew she couldn’t leave. There was a point where she went from not eating much to not eating/drinking at all. Eventually she just died from dehydration from not having enough fluids and food. My dad, sister and I knew she didn’t want to be kept on any sort of life support so we let her die without force feeding her. One of my aunts and grandmother were not pleased at first but accepted it was the right decision once they talked a bit more with the doctors and nurses.

I thought it best to give you that bit of information because when I mention cleaning up after grieving it’s a

English: Photo of the living room of a compuls...

English: Photo of the living room of a compulsive hoarder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

present issue. Four years ago we did not throw away most of my mom’s things. We donated some of her things and gave away some items to other family but by and large her stuff is still around today. Yesterday was important because I helped my dad clean/tidy up his room that he couldn’t handle himself. Grief had made him inert where tidying up was concerned because he’d have had to go through my mom’s things in his room. He had all kinds of blocks/obstacles in front of her things that I think he was unaware of. The obstacles kept him physically unable to deal with moving her clothes and donating them to charity. Every ‘block’ was another excuse for him to put off dealing with her clothes. I gave up a year or so ago on trying to convince him to part with the things. I realized he’d do it when he was ready-not because I pestered him into it. Today he sounded like he was ‘ready’ when he mentioned giving my mom’s clothes away finally. My tidying up his room gave him the momentum and clarity he needed to see a way through his resistance to parting with mom’s stuff.


Clothes (Photo credit: codey)

I feel very pleased my dad is finally moving forward in his grief work. Some people can toss their spouse’s clothes and belongings in the first year. Dad needed longer but at least he’s getting there. Maybe I have been able to help him by living with him. He says he appreciates my company. But sometimes I feel guilty for not doing more. Yet now I see perhaps I have given him something less tangible and concrete-a way to heal.

There’s still a lot of things to be dealt with in terms of giving things away but we’re a lot further ahead than we were just a few days ago, and even more so than four years ago! My mom was a compulsive hoarder so she had more things than is normal and healthy. Thus, despite giving away a large amount of her stuff there remains a fair amount to be sorted still.

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Author: Natalya

Blogging my thoughts and feelings about mostly mental health, meditation and spirituality(non religious). Hoping to connect with other interesting people in the blogosphere. *The name is Russian and is my pseudonym.

13 thoughts on “Cleaning Up After Grieving

  1. I am sorry about your mum … sounds very traumatic 😦 xx

  2. There’s no measure to grief. A year after my father had passed away, I had moved cities and was into a new life with work and love. I was folding clothes in my bedroom when I caught sight of a picture of my dad, I suddenly was overwhelmed with an aching feeling of ‘loss’, I collapsed to the floor crying hysterically. My new boyfriend was gobsmacked and had no idea how to console me. I cried for hours and when I finally stopped I felt like all the sadness had washed away. We can try and bury ourselves in hoarding or new lifestyles but everything has a limit. Letting go is a profound experience for us all and one that makes way for new growth. well done to you for being such a strong presence for your family. You are a beautiful soul!

    • Thanks so much! I’m sorry you no longer have your dad with you. That must have been really difficult to go through.

      My mom was the hoarder but my dad is somewhat into hoarding, mainly paper though. He hoards papers/documents that are no longer useful. I’m helping him though.

      Thanks again for your kind words and sharing your experience.

  3. I like that your father did it (with your help) in his time. I think that’s really important. When my father died last year and I watched how my mother dealt with dad’s things I realise that grief is a personal thing and there is no one right timing for everyone. It just has to be done in it’s own time.

  4. I’m sorry for your loss! My grandfather had Alzheimer’s really bad near the end and past away last year but from lung cancer. It’s a nasty thing to watch, Alzheimer’s.

  5. I was sorry to read about the loss of your mother but pleased that you are able to co-operate with your father. I’m sure it’s something that will benefit both of you. 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing this with us. x

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