Brooke, I’m so happy that you used the “Grandma’s blanket” example early this month. You coached me her in Ask Brooke in early August when my 89-year-old mother was having radiation treatments and insisted on staying in her home 90 minutes drive away from me. Long story short, her choice resulted in a bad emergency, and she is now in long-term nursing home care very close to my home, unable to do anything for herself. To make things worse, she has developed significant dementia / delirium which frequently manifests as anger toward me and paranoia about that I am scheming to tie her to the bed and do other terrible things. She tells me that I am evil and that she would shoot me dead if she had a gun.
This work has allowed me to realize that her thoughts are not about me, and I cannot be victimized by her accusations unless I choose to be victimized. I choose to view this this situation as “my loving mother is gone, and this lady needs me to make sure that her body is taken care of with dignity and care.” I don’t force myself to endure long or daily visits as they’re not helpful to her, and they’re downright difficult for me.
Mom is never going home to her apartment. My only sibling lives in Sweden (I am in Ohio, US) so closing down Mom’s apartment is all on me. My children and I took some of her favorite belongings to the nursing home. She won’t give any input into what else is important to her.
I’ve been “all in” in the homework this month. I’ve already purged my guest bedroom, my bedroom closet and my office. I am so happy with my new clutter-free environment. I discarded 95% of the many items that Mom sent home with me when she downsized years ago. Seriously, I had two rooms in my home that looked like rooms straight out of my childhood. It’s no wonder I got stuck in emotional childhood until age 50! I don’t want to fill my house back up with her things again.
I know that there are exactly 3 items in her apartment that 1) serve me 2) that I want and 3) that are not outdated. I’m leaning toward offering the rest of the family (aunts, uncles, cousins) who might want some of the remainder there some time on a Saturday and allowing them to have any items that they want – and then sending the rest to Hospice.
Once of my friends told me that I am making a huge mistake – that I’ll regret not keeping Mom’s doodads and afghans and the vase she received as a wedding gift. Mom will be furious if she finds out I got rid of everything – but the alternative is continuing to rent the apartment to store her stuff, which is really mostly rags and refuse, or renting a storage unit until she dies and dealing with it then. I don’t want to pack and move it all just to have to go through it all again while I’m arranging a funeral and grieving the physical death (the mental / emotional one has already happened).
Am I missing something, or is getting rid of this stuff really this easy when you approach it with an organized mind?