Are We Hoarders–or Memory Keepers?

More and more often my widowed friends tell me they MUST get busy and clear out their homes in order to downsize and move! Then, they add, “But I just can’t get started.”

So the mad circle continues until they are incapable of moving and their families have to go in and do it for them.

One friend’s family was able to get a “helper” three days a week from a charity organization to help her sort her “stuff” and her life. This woman’s tiny, two-room apartment is so cluttered with five cartons of old movie tapes, bags of clothes from Goodwill, and family photos of her life, from early childhood through the birth of 16 grandchildren, that she no longer can sleep in her bedroom, but goes to bed in recliner chair.

“My helper puts three boxes out–one for Goodwill, one for things to keep, and one for garbage,” she explained, recreating a horror scene in my mind from TLC’s Hoarders series.

Fortunately, her loving family just decided to take over this mission. They plan to go in, clear out all but the most important “memory items” and move her to an assisted living facility.

But It makes me think about a recent article I read concerning the psychology of “saving”–AKA “hoarding.”

We do it because each item or photo has a comforting memory attached to it and that makes us feel as though those people involved in it are still close by. We look at the picture of our parents holding us in their arms, or holding our hands, or beaming at our graduations and weddings–and we feel them close.

Our weddings albums often take prime real estate in our homes after our spouses’ death for that same reason. We turn the pages, again and again, and in addition to reliving those days when we were all young, strong, and attractive , we were, most importantly, together.

So keep those especially dear memories, of course., But don’t clutter your living space and your mind with so many memories you can’t find your way to the bedroom.

Try and remember you are never alone because YOU are there!

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