Combing Through the Wreckage
Sorting through the possessions of a deceased loved one is often an act of discovery. Julia Klein, as she relates in today’s feature, found her mother’s birth certificate while organizing and cleaning the things her mother left behind. Turns out her mom was two years older than anyone–her husband included—had suspected.
But what if your loved one was a hoarder, or as the DSM refers to the illness, suffers from a particular type of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. What if the mass of belongings left behind is a testament to a psychological illness, the extent of which was previously unknown. As Newsweek puts it, what if you are the beneficiary of an “unwanted inheritance?”
Take this story on the web site of the support group ChildrenofHoarders.com,
My brother and I received a call on Sunday March, 26th that they found our Mother dead in her home. She has avoided letting either one of us in the house for over 8 years.
Some children of hoarders contract professional cleanup crews that can charge from $5,000 to $20,000 for a full clean. For others, the true treasures of a life—a special pair of ear rings, photographs from long ago—are buried between the layers of non-essential stuff a hoarder hoards.
Combing through this wreckage is a kind of double grief.
Image: “Waste Not,” installation by Chinese artist Song Dong at MoMA 2009. Organized contents of the artist’s mother’s hoarded collection of housewares.