Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Purging at a standstill

You know when you're watching a television show like Criminal Minds and they visit the house of a family who's child perished years ago? And then they find that those parents have left the child's room completely untouched, despite all the time that has passed? Well, I get it.


It turns out I'm just like those parents, but in a reverse role.

My mom passed away just over two months ago (has it really been that long?), yet today was the first time I was actually able to go into her house and begin the task of tidying up.

I've dreaded this day for so long, simply because I don't want to touch anything in her home. I want to keep it as she left it.

Her slippers are still at the back door entrance.

Her most-recently washed dishes are still in the dish strainer by the sink.

A set of clothes are perfectly laid out on her bed, just where she left them the last time she was there.

And the contents of her purse are essentially untouched, ready for her to go out shopping or to get her hair done.

I'm just so emotionally attached to everything about that house, and I feel that cleaning it out will essentially be erasing my mom's memory and everything about her life.

How do people do this?

I remember that, when my dad died, my mom was relatively quick in cleaning out his dressers and closets, donating all of his clothes and belongings. I know it was an overwhelming task for her, too, but it needed to be done, and so she just did it.

But, for me, I'm just having a really difficult time letting go.

My husband was off work this morning, so he came with me -- partly to lend a hand.... but mostly to ensure that I didn't back out and just head home or to an all-you-can-eat buffet, where I could drown all my sorrows in some comfort food. (Because you know I totally would.)

Mercifully, though, I had a plan going in.

Since the basement of my mom's house is still mostly occupied by our belongings and not my mother's, I decided we should start down there. Which was smart, because it turns out it's much easier for me to sort through my own old clothes and items, since I've gone so long without them anyway.

The albeit-small dent we made this morning actually felt really good, and I'm hoping my motivation to continue will carry over when I head back tomorrow.

Otherwise I may be hitting that buffet table sooner than I think.


  1. Good idea to have a plan to start with the basement & your old stuff.

    Also - we should definitely go walking together once the weather warms up and the ice is gone.


  2. You can do it Jo...you have to think to yourself (and I know its really hard) you are not erasing her memory as you have pictures with lots of memories. The items that you are going through is just stuff. Don't feel pressured to toss/donate everything. Pick out 1 or two items that really remind you of your mom (a sweater/jewelry) and keep that just for you. You will bring it out when you feel down and a reminder of how much your mom meant to you and it will bring you comfort. My mom still has a sweater of my dad's that she brings out on occasion and that was over 20 years ago. I got a brush and mirror set of my grandma's, its a silly thing but something that I really wanted.