Cleaning up after loss of spouse

Discussion in 'Finding it Difficult to Move Foward' started by FoundaGoodThing2002, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. Hi all,

    I've read many stories about how people handle personal belongings, areas of the house, etc after a spouse passes. I am firmly of the belief that you should leave things alone, as long as you'd like, and don't let ANYONE tell you that you need to "clean that up"/"throw it away"/etc. If you don't like my messy house, you can LEAVE, your attitude is not welcome here.

    There are a few exceptions. Like most cancer patients, my wife had her own personal pharmacy of dangerous medications. I made sure to get those out of the house ASAP. Same with any food that she left out or plants/flowers that are going to get nasty if left for too long.

    I'm struggling a little bit with things like bedding and towels. Proper hygiene would suggest that I should change these at some point, but I really don't want to. I had to strip the bed the other day because I was looking for something, but I couldn't bring myself to change the sheets. My wife slept on those sheets. I want to keep those on the bed as long as I possibly can. Same with the towels, we have several sets of his/her towels in the bathroom and I refuse to change the current set out.

    I guess what I'm asking is, how long is reasonable to keep using these items before it becomes unbearably gross, and even then, do I really care if I stink? I have no one to impress.

    Please share your stories and thoughts.
    edj9 and Julien like this.
  2. Sheila512

    Sheila512 Well-Known Member

    You will know when it's time. The sheets will have to be laundered, as well as the towels in the bathroom. Keep something of hers, like a robe or blouse. Something that has her scent. I still have my Dad's bathrobe and he died in 1980. It wraps me in love, and yes. I do wash it. Just looking at it and touching it makes me feel safe. You will get there. It is just too soon
  3. Sara K Hatch

    Sara K Hatch Well-Known Member

    After my dear one passed I felt compelled to give away all of the equipment that he needed like canes, walkers, potty chairs, lift chairs, etc. They only reminded me of the diseased person he had become. I gave his clothes to a homeless shelter, his depends, washes, etc. to my niece for her ill husband to use. The only clothing I have of my husband is a winter coat. It makes me very sad every time I see it.
    I choose to remember him as one who has gone on to the next life in a renewed form no longer caged in his fragile body. I feel his presence often and ask him to guide and protect me. What would your wife want you to do with her things including linen and towels?
    glego and ReneeLight like this.
  4. About a month after my husband died I decided to clean out his closet. Our two daughters took some shirts they wanted, my granddaughter picked two shirts and I am getting a teddy bear made of them for her. I limited myself to a bin of things that I held dear. I sleep with his bathrobe every night. I cuddle it and talk to it often. It gives me comfort. He died in our bed. I wash the sheets as usual but I feel safe and comfortable just being in that bed. There are a lot of different opinions. One daughter thought I got rid of things too fast but then thinks it’s silly to sleep with his robe. The other daughter thought sleeping in our bed would be tough and wanted to buy me a new one. I just smiled at both of them and I do what I feel is right for me. I still have other things to go through but I take it day by day. When I feel up to it I’ll go through things. Some days I just can’t do anything. It’s only been two months and my heart is still breaking.
  5. ReneeLight

    ReneeLight Active Member

    I still have all my husband’s cloths, towels, etc and have not thrown anything out. It’s been 14 months. I can’t bear to get rid of his things. They are packed in see thru plastic totes. I keep a few of his T-shirt’s in my dresser. I have a little plastic tote that I keep his deodorant, soap, aftershave in. Occasionally I open that so I can remember how he smelled. I do wash things like sheets, towels, blankets but not the clothes he left. I love to hold them once in awhile. I can’t foresee getting rid of his things ever.
    Beth M likes this.
  6. My condolences on your recent loss. Every circumstance is different, but I would imagine dying in your bed has to be challenging. I think it's sweet that you sleep with his robe and talk with him. I wouldn't worry too much about what other people think. I know I'm not ready to clean out the closet or her side of the room.

    A friend came over to help me today and give me some motivation. I decided to change the sheets today, and he coached me. We also cleaned the bathroom together, which meant changing out the towels. I had finally come to a place where I felt OK replacing and washing, it was just not interesting enough for me to actually DO it. Having someone come over to stare at me until I was done cleaning definitely helped. The bathroom is the cleanest it's been in 6 months.
    edj9 likes this.
  7. It does help when you have someone to not only verbally motivate you but who actually cares enough to help too. Good luck and keep that bathroom clean
    Heather Love likes this.
  8. blkcrwf1

    blkcrwf1 Member

    I cannot part with anything that belonged to my husband not cloths shoes underwear nothing I want to keep it all. I say that you do things at your pace and in your own time we all have our own time and I dont think I will ever be able to part with anything
    edj9 likes this.
  9. Deborah Clark

    Deborah Clark Member

    I feel your pain I can't do that either yet
    edj9 and blkcrwf1 like this.
  10. Anna B

    Anna B Member

    It’s been 6 months since my husband passed. I still have his towel next to mine and have not washed it. His clothes are still in the laundry basket. His shoes are where he left them and his closet is how he left it. I don’t know if I can ever change any of that. Part of me thinks it’s not healthy to live like this and the other part of me thinks if I move them it’s erasing him from the life we had together. I know he is gone but I don’t want to let go of all I have if him. His mom asked me why I still have everything. I don’t know what to say to her other than I’m just not ready. And I don’t think I will ever be ready.
    edj9 likes this.
  11. Deborah Clark

    Deborah Clark Member

    Do things in your time you will get rid of his things when your ready. It's only been 3 months since my husband passed and I know I wont be ready anytime soon. Just let your mother know your not ready and that if see says anything else let her know how hard it is right now. I know that's not easy to do right now. My daughter told me she would help me when I'm ready and not before that made me feel better. We are ready in time and there isn't a timeline when that is. Keep going one day at a time that's what I'm doing.
  12. Deb Wenzel

    Deb Wenzel New Member

    It’s been 28 months since I lost my husband to cancer. He was diagnosed 5-9-17 and died 5-26-17. I came home and packed up all of his medications for diabetes and blood pressure and took to my local police department for disposal. I threw all of his work uniforms out. I even went through a few things in the garage. I gave away many of his clothes and my boys kept some of his shirts. I did have a teddy bear made for me and one for my mother-in-law from a couple of his favorite shirts. I sold his truck early on and last summer sold our 2 ATVs. That was a very sad day since that was something we enjoyed doing together. As I write this I’m sitting in the garage looking at 1000s of tools and no idea how to use half of them. I have our boat parked in one of 3 stalls and a ton more of other large items in the shed he designed and built. I have 100 keys he carried and no idea what they go to. And every drawer in my house is filled with papers I need to go through. I started with the file cabinet and one folder was utility receipts dating all the way back to 1985, the year we married. I’m overwhelmed and have no idea how to get through all the “stuff”. My boys don’t get it. I’m lost!!
    edj9 likes this.
  13. Deborah Clark

    Deborah Clark Member

    Im so sorry for your loss. I haven't done anything with my husbands thing or even thought about what to get rid at this point. It's to hard for me right now. I too am lost and lonely now. Luckily my daughter understands since she it older. I can't give you advise about what to do or how to get past it I can just say it is one day at a time. Do push yourself to do to much cause it will take time. I haven't even decided when I will be ready for that step.
  14. paul tinker

    paul tinker Well-Known Member

    For several months I was too stunned, lost, emotional to make any decisions. There was the discovery of photos I am so glad she took and had in various places. I wanted her wedding dress and wedding photos the most. These took a long time to find. I was so slow and confused to really go about things. I also wanted to stay connected and not let go. My general take is once it's gone you can't get whatever back. For some, it maye a forced issue like moving. Some things I never saw her in and they went to women's shelters. I know that is what she would have wanted. A portion I filled boxes with a cross-section of kay's clothes, jewelry, things she bought out of her joy of rare finds or cards she kept. These I sent to her siblings and best friend. I am allowing five nice size plastic bins for the collection of what most represents her and has memories attached. I now find there is a 300 to 400 dress preservation container. I may think about that. Again families vary and perhaps a daughter may wish to make that her dress. This is so personal and we do want connection.
  15. Kriss

    Kriss Well-Known Member

    Wow. You sound just like me except for the fact I haven’t sold his truck. My son says we are never selling his truck. I have so many folders and drawers and tools and odds ends and I have no clue what any of them are for. My son won’t go thru it with me and I don’t want to ask his friend.
  16. paul tinker

    paul tinker Well-Known Member

    Kriss this is an issue. My take is what gets tossed you can.t get back. These things are them and represent their taste, choice, and way of being. Inventory and sort. That takes time. Evaluate what has the most emotional memory and meaning. Her favorite clothes or the ones I bought for her. All pictures sorted, preserved and saved. Her taste in simple objects that represent her humor, sense of esthetic. What she thought beautiful. What was closest to her heart. Books, music, jewelry, quirky nick-nacks, brought on vacation memories. Her sentimental ties to others. Some stuff I view as used by others. She would approve of that. Unless moving or space constraint. Why not go slow. An odd personal process. Hopefully no deadline. Somewhat they would want. Some very personal to us. We are not done with them. I have finished making photocopies for others. Find good homes for things that further others lives. Some stuff becomes money. Some are just too expensive to upkeep and outlived our current life. Some core them and treasure. The sorting is hard work to be sure. I do it spirts. I do it with lots of I will decide later. Often very emotional. I sit with that and maybe stop or let the memories flow. That may be painful.

    We all do this part. Some outlooks that evolved but always minus regret.

    Best to you Kriss.

    Paul M.
    cg123 likes this.
  17. Bogman

    Bogman Well-Known Member

    It's been 7 weeks since my sweetheart passed, I cleared out some items the first week and then stopped and haven't touched anything since. I will get back to it but have decided there is no rush and I'm finding comfort in having her items around. It tears at times but thats OK, sure is a difficult time !!
    paul tinker and glego like this.
  18. cg123

    cg123 Well-Known Member

    There is no time frame in clearing out items of your loved one. Everyone does it at their own time whether it is a few weeks, months or even years. You do what feels right for you and what you can handle. Yes, it certainly can bring tears to your eyes when doing so and it is indeed a very difficult for those of us grieving.
    paul tinker likes this.
  19. Sara K Hatch

    Sara K Hatch Well-Known Member

    Allmost immediately after my husband passed with Parkinson's he had for 7 years I gave all of the medical equipment that he used to an agency who supplied people who could not afford them were able to get some free. I gave all of his clothes to a homeless shelter which had a supply for those in need. Since he was unable to do much of anything but sit and read for the last 4 years there was no much else to give away. He could no longer use a computer, cell phone, or write anything down. I gave away his almost new lift chair to a man who had broken his back, Hospice took back his hospital bed.
    I have a friend who's husband was a woodworker and had a huge shop full of tools. She wants to sell their home and move into one that is smaller. She does what she can every day and just keeps after it. She is selling the tools at an online auction, has given many to neighbors and friends.
    If you take it one day at a time and decide what you can do just that day, it won't seem so overwhelming. There is plenty of places who will take donations and be happy to have them.
    paul tinker, cg123 and Bogman like this.
  20. cg123

    cg123 Well-Known Member

    I gave most of my sister's clothes to her caregiver who is the same size. I know that my sister would have wanted her to have it because the caregiver was so good with my sister and helped so much. My sister felt so close with her and she felt the same way with my sister. I did keep some of her clothes, all her jewelry and other personal items. It was very hard doing this but I knew that my sister would have been glad that I was able to help her caregiver. Her caregiver and I have remained friends every since.
    paul tinker likes this.