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Wednesday, Mar 25, 2015

Coping with sentimental attachments

Common Sense Caregiving

Published:   |   Updated: June 6, 2013 at 09:28 AM

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An unbreakable bond is forged during the years spent caring for a loved one who is seriously ill. Sadly, things will finally come to an end. That's life. And death.

Ultimately the time will come when you must sit yourself down in what was once a familiar house that now feels as if someone or something literally sucked the life right out of it. I've had some caregivers tell me that they even felt the need to deodorize their home to remove the odors left behind by medical antiseptic.

If your loved one had hospice care involved, weren't you shocked by how quickly they removed their equipment? I sure was! The very next morning after my dad's passing, I heard a rumble in the driveway and found that it was a large hospice truck. I watched in awe as two large men got out and, in no time, loaded up whatever equipment was theirs. Then silence! It was eerie the way that the spot where his bed once laid seemed to permeate emptiness throughout the whole house.

The first thing I did once reality set in was to start working on the interior of my house. Changes that I had been wanting to make for years were now possible. Before my hands had been tied as I knew that change would upset my father's routine.

Not only did I feel the house become a home again, I found all of this activity and change to be very therapeutic. It was almost a month before I began to write again. Happily, working on the house occupied my mind and left me with the satisfaction of feeling I had accomplished something.

A good six months had gone by before I finally called my sister and asked if she would come by and empty my dad's closet and donate his clothing to wherever she felt best. It wasn't as if I didn't need the space, I did! I was in dire need of that closet for my own clothing, but I just couldn't handle this chore. It had nothing to do with the fact that my father had died in that room. I never experienced any ill or odd feeling because of that. In fact, I found it to be the complete opposite! I was grateful that my father got to spend his last living days in the comfort of his familiar surroundings. The truth is that I had suddenly developed a sentimental attachment to his belongings. I would never consider myself a hoarder, but astonishingly I had an all encompassing urge not to throw anything of his away.

If you are left with a whole second household full of possessions, you may want to consider having a professional liquidator come in and help you. At almost every caregiver symposium I attend there is at least one booth set up to promote an estate liquidation business. The trick is finding a reputable one. Spend the extra time to thoroughly go through their references.

There's always going to be a few special items that you'll treasure forever, but do you really need two households full of furniture? Letting someone else handle the project may help take away some of those heartbreaking decisions.

Then of course there are many of us that will run into the dreaded family issues where everyone is arguing about who gets what. There are sad occasions when family members start grabbing items before their loved one has even stopped breathing. If the attorneys and probate get involved, you may have way more time then you wish to review their belongings.

Whatever the case, don't let anyone force you into any decisions until you're emotionally ready.

If you find yourself being overcome with depression from being surrounded by their memories, it definitely may be healthier to have someone with you and not go about this project alone.

Going through your loved one's belongings is a difficult task. Try to stay strong. Deep down inside yourself, you know what your loved one would wish for you to do.

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