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Cleaning out the closet...

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

mine! I know we have all shared our feelings about the painful chore of going through our loved ones belongings. And we all pretty much agree that we will get to this when we feel ready. So, what does a lonely gal do on a Saturday night? I decided that since I am not ready to go through my love's things, that my side of the closet has been chaotic for almost a year now! My weight had fluctuated so much, I didn't want to give anything away. Think I may be stable for now, weight wise that is!

Do you know what happened? Cleaning out my stuff proved to be as hard as if I was doing his side of the closet! A dress he bought me, heels he totally went crazy over, so on and so on. Special nighties that he gave to me for getaways. The new Nike golf shoes he bought for me so that we could get back to golfing, we never did. The amazing Nine West boots and matching purse that he surprised me with two Christmases ago.

Four hours later and three crates of stuff that don't fit, don't like, or can't see myself wearing ever again, would just be too sad. For Dennis' Funeral Mass, he always said for me not to wear black, for me to wear red. My wonderful brother-in-law actually went out, shopped and got for me the most amazing red dress! It fit like glove, but would you ever be able to wear it again? Held on to it.

Anyway, my closet looks better. I can actually walk into it without stumbling on a shoe! Kept looking at his side, touching his clothes, his caps, his cowboy hats. Polished his ropers and western boots. Turned off the light and said," not ready".

Lucy

junklady's picture
junklady
Posts: 88
Joined: Aug 2009

It's 6 months today since he left me. I know what you mean about touching his clothes. I cry every time I touch his starched shirts, cowboy boots, Wranglers and his cowboy hat. I have is hat on a shelf in my bedroom, so I can look at it everyday. I keep asking myself, why did you leave me, what do you want me to do, give me sign. I'm just not ready to part with any of Dale's clothes, don't know when I will. I sure miss my cowboy. The toughest part is coming, this summer when I have to deal with the cows and run the tractor, and things ranch related. I keep telling myself, I can do it, and I will. Dale always told me how do things. Darn, I just miss him so much.

Cyndi

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

Congrats to you, Lucy. At least you made progress in your own area.
debbie

david54
Posts: 115
Joined: Apr 2009

Hello-back again after a self willed absence, it has been seven months since my wife died. Life is different. I have some of her clothing in plastic bags. Most of the closets and her vanity are empty. I still don’t sleep in our bed, can’t. I took down wedding pictures from the wall in our bedroom, put the wedding album away. I had the old Super 8 video of our wedding in 1978 transferred to DVD. Hardest part for me is going back to an empty home and the silence. I have dated some, in fact in a relationship, to a very nice woman and I am grateful for her. I feel that may be a taboo subject here for some, but I am not used to being alone! I miss hearing someone breathe at night. I miss the warmth of a human touch; a cat only goes so far! And I am not reckless or impulsive, actually very cautious. I have gone through the bereavement groups and therapy; it helped to the extent that grieving isn’t going to go away on its own. I have been to her grave site a few times, I still need to buy a grave marker, will take care of that very soon. Don’t mean to sound depressing, this is one of the few sites I can share this with. I am in awe of all of you and your courage in the face of intense loss and pain. People asked if I wanted help with her clothing and I chose to do it alone, a solemn event for me, personal. I still have her undergarments, they are as close to her as I can get. I know its personal but it’s what I have been experiencing.
I relate to cleaning out your own closet. I can’t bring myself to wear some of the clothes she bought me, and some of them are very nice clothes! I have donated a lot of them away and started my own “Wardrobe” if you will.
Thanks.
David

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

David....good to hear from the male viewpoint on this. Didn't realize that there were any husbands out here missing their wives.
I don't think you need to feel bad about needing some companionship. Everyone is different and moves at their own pace. I am going through a class right now about grief and one of the things stated was that you don't need to feel guilty about feeling better or moving forward. That does not diminish your grief or mean that you care less about your wife than others who may not move forward as fast in their grief journey.
I wish you all the best.
Debbie

3Mana
Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

David,
Hey, it's so good to hear from a guy who's feeling the same way we are who have lost our husbands. My husband passed away on March 25,2010. This past week, I've found myself getting teary eyed at the littlest thing. I know it's cause it's getting closer to the date I lost him. As for his clothes, I have given some away, and also my sons have taken some of his shirts. One of our grandsons is 15 and asked for some of his jeans. I cried whenever I'd see them in anything. I still have alot of his stuff that I just can't get rid of. Eventually I will, but just not ready. So don't worry about getting rid of your wife's stuff.
Glad to hear you're also seeing someone. I, too, have started seeing a guy. I actually went to high school with him. His wife died 4 years ago and I also knew her. But I totally agree with you about missing companionship. Just having someone to go out to dinner with or just sit & talk is great. I felt very guilty at first, but it's getting better.
Anyhow, sorry if I rambled on, but nice to talk to you! "Carole"

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1561
Joined: Nov 2009

Hey David,
So nice to see you posting. It was a year March 9th that my dad passed. Mom gave herself one year before she did anything with dad's things. She handed down some clothes to my husband, and two guys from our church. She wanted to give them to someone she knew. My brother and husband and nephew will all go through the many many tools. I love the story Lucy told about the cologne her son was given. That was a sign.....her grandchild found it and put it on to let everyone know her Grandpa was ok in heaven! Neat story. To all of us who are in the process of cleaning out....take it at your own pace, do what you feel is best. Peace be with all.
Tina in Va

mswijiknyc's picture
mswijiknyc
Posts: 421
Joined: Oct 2010

About a week before Patrick passed, I walked into our bedroom took one look at the bed and said to myself "I can't be in this room anymore. Can't sleep on this bed." A few days before he passed, I moved all my clothes out of our room into the spare room where I sleep now.

At some point I will move. This house, besides being a rental, is Patrick's house. There are too many rooms and places I just can't go into. Most everything in the bedroom is not coming with me. Of his things, very little will be coming with me. I learned through unfortunate experience that stuff is just stuff. I can only keep that which is incredibly important to me: his welder's hats, couple t-shirts, pictures, tools, hard hats, his jumper, and a few other odds and ends.

ktlcs's picture
ktlcs
Posts: 360
Joined: Jan 2010

I felt like I had to clean out the closet soon after he passed. I don't know why I cried through the whole ordeal but once it was over I felt a burden had been lifted. I think thinking about having to do it was more stressful than doing it! Anyway that;s just me, we each have our own way of doing things

Kathy

sal314
Posts: 633
Joined: Jul 2010

It will be 4 weeks ago this Wednesday that my dad will have passed. My mom says she really wants to go through the closet and get rid of his cloths. I think it's kinda of soon, but she says it's stressing her out thinking about it and she thinks she's ready. So...I'm gonna just follow her lead and help her as much as she thinks she can do.

I'm sure it will be a very emotional process, but I also think it will help us both to continue the "baby steps" towards healing. Not sure what to expect. But guess I should really tell myself not to "expect" anything! I'm sure it's better to just simply try to "live in the moment" and honor whatever feelings will be coming up. That's hard for me, as I like to know what's coming around the corner, what to expect and have a "plain of action" ready so I can "handle it" (whatever "it" is) Stupid, I know. Wonder if I'm even making sense? Not sure I know what I'm trying to say! :)

Anyway, I appreciate and needed to be reminded that everyone goes at their own pace. There is no "right" set of time to do or not do things. Whatever "feels" right is right. At least when it comes to the grieving and loss of loved ones.

Thanks,
Sally

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

I, too, am one that believes that if I know what to expect, I can prepare! Life has pulled that rug out from under me. So now, I try to take a moment at a time. I just spent the weekend cleaning out and organizing my husband's tool shed. Not easy, cried much. In the end it was done, and I feel that the best thing that came from it, was releasing the grief!

My sweet daughter and I worked on his dresser a few weeks ago. We ended up sharing, remembering and even laughing of the memories his clothes brought up! Slow and easy is the motto of the day around here.

Lucy

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

My mom and step-father were visiting this weekend. I had found a package of 2 brand new mens' deodarant in the bathroom closet. I gave them to my step-father.
Does that count as cleaning out? :-)

Debbie

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

A week after Dennis passed, I wanted to spray a bit of my favorite scent he wore. In looking through his toiletries, something that is still difficult, I realized how many colognes he had. When my son came by, I gave them all to him, except my favorite. He was grateful, as they were the "good" stuff. Without thinking, he put the shaving kit I had placed them in, in the back seat, along with my 2 yr old granddaughter. He called me when he got home to tell me that somehow she managed to get into it, and rub a lotion of his dad's on herself! Then he told me that as the scent drifted to the front of the truck, it struck him. He could smell his dad. He said that he knew that it was the baby, but that somehow he also felt the closeness of his dad! I had also given him his dad's truck. He says that he often speaks to his dad while driving, and with the scent in the truck, it really helps him feel better when he is down.

I am glad that I chose to give my son the colognes and the truck. For him and for me. I feel as though I can't hold onto these material things, I must let them go, as I had to let him go. What I will have of him will remain in my heart. Still haven't touched his closet... Like you said, baby steps!

Take care,

Lucy

neverquit
Posts: 221
Joined: Oct 2010

I will be giving a good friend of ours a pair of Mike's skis this weekend. This is a guy who we ski patrol with at Camelback and who became a very, very good friend of Mike's (and also me). Before he passed away, Mike asked me to write down some things he wanted to give to his friends/family and this is one (and the first) of them. The only question I have is who will cry more when I do this on Saturday, me or our friend. It may end up being a tie.

I have also talked to my nephews about some of Mike's ski clothes, hiking boots and shoes (he had a lot of newer items that he barely got a chance to wear). They said they would love to have them and would be honored to wear them. Just thinking about this makes me cry on one hand, but on the other hand, I know Mike was worried that he didn't want these things to go to waste.

God I love him and miss him and wish he were still alive and here with me. I am not ready to go through all of his other clothes and things yet.

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

Go at whatever pace feels ok. It sounds like you are ready to give yours and Mike's friend the skis. Your nephews will honor Mike by wearing and skiing in his ski clothes. Should you be present it may sting at first, but I think after a little while it will bring a smile to your face seeing them do what your love would have done in them!

I know how you miss him and wish for all of this to have been a terrible mistake, I, too feel this way!

Take care, you are in my thoughts.

Lucy

neverquit
Posts: 221
Joined: Oct 2010

Thanks so much for your words Lucy. You're right; I do wish this was all a horrible mistake, and for all of us. Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts as you, Penny, April, Carole, Debbie, Michelle and others have been in my thoughts too. Take care.

tabur's picture
tabur
Posts: 71
Joined: Jul 2009

Pam and I were empty nesters and had our house on the market for about a year. Our plan was to downsize to an apartment or townhouse where I could care for her without the worry of maintaining the land surrounding our home. Finally, in early January, a young local man who we knew for most of his life, got the financing he needed and made an offer on the house. By this time, Pam had exhausted two regiments of chemo and a clinical trial spanning two years. She was exhausted and refused any further clinical trials.

In order to lock in the interest rate offered to him by the bank, I agreed to sell him the house if he would agree to rent the house back to me in the event Pam was unable to move by the closing date. He was more than happy to do this. Well, it took quite awhile for appraisals, termite inspection, water tests and the insurance appraisal but now it's all done and the closing is scheduled for April 1st.

Sadly, Pam's health deteriorated rapidly and she lost her battle just two short weeks ago on March 3rd. It was our 32nd wedding anniversary. Not a day goes by that I don't break down and cry. The young man (Paul) and his fiancé (Amanda), came by the house to offer their condolences and told me to take all the time I needed to find a new home. I don't want to take advantage of their kindness as I'm sure they are anxious to move into their new home. I started looking at some places but it is so depressing without Pam. I have not even looked in her side of the closet yet and I'm afraid I'll have to do it before I am ready. My daughter offered to help but I know it will be hard for her too.

I feel so sick to my stomach...

Al

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

So sorry for your loss. How kind of the buyers to grant you this time. Perhaps one or both have experienced a like situation in their life and know what it is to grieve and mourn the loss of a great love!

You are not taking advantage of their kindness, you have already taken the first step in searching for a new place. I know of the great loss, but could not imagine having to move away from the home we both dreamed and built together, at least not this soon. Throughout this time of loss for me, I have started to see that everything that happens does serve a purpose, (not my beloved dying), so maybe you having to move will serve as the first step in your new journey... May I make a suggestion? While in your search for a new place, try to imagine what Pam would like about it, what she would find charming about it, what she would not like about it. Of course, always thinking what you like about it, and if it serves you well. We are not going to forget our loved ones, after all, much of who we are is because of their touching our lives. Sometimes I think folks suggest that to begin anew is to solely think about our feelings, no longer having to consider another's. I don't see it that way, if I were moving I would be taking our furniture, our cookware, our dinnerware, etc.. with me. We chose those items together, we loved those items together. I know that in the years to come, some will need replacing, and I will replace them. Perhaps then I may be in a better place emotionally to be able to do that. If you need to, why don't you just lovingly pack and store Pam's belongings for now, and maybe at a later date you will be in a better place and time to decide what to do with them?

Do accept your daughter's help. For us it proved to be a special moment. We grieved together, we laughed about some of his items, we hugged and accomplished the painful task, together. We are blessed to have our children!

Take care of yourself. Come here often, many of know what you are going through.

Lucy

sal314
Posts: 633
Joined: Jul 2010

today. Both of us were pretty numb through most of it. Wasn't 'til the very end my mom had her "moment" and then it got me going. It's just so hard to believe he really isn't going to walk in the room. She mentioned she felt like she was betraying him in some way by getting rid of his clothes. I didn't quite understand that, though I "think" I know what she was trying to say. Wondering if anyone else felt that way?

Thought we both handled it fairly well. Wasn't until I got home and felt completely exhausted and like I got hit by a Mack truck that I realized how stressful it was. Guess when you're in "task mode" you just don't acknowledge the emotional aspects of what's going on. Well, now I am. I've been shaky and weepy all night.

I still have all his clothes packed to the ceiling in our mini van. Will delivery them to the charity resale shop tomorrow. It was very weird driving around with virtually all of my dad's clothes in my car. I couldn't stop thinking how sad...a life that was so richly lived and blessed...is reduced to just "clothes". Stuff. That's all that's left of his life... his "stuff". Such a strange, sad, empty feeling, ya know?

Anyway...we got through it and hopefully it will be of help in the long journey of the healing process. We've only just begun, I know. At least it's a step forward (for today) anyway. :)

Blessings,
Sally

Susiestn
Posts: 13
Joined: Mar 2011

I am 45 years old with two little girls and I lost my mom on December 30 and two weeks later found out I have breast cancer. She was my best friend and battleling this disease without her seems too much to bear. I start chemo next week and am going to the same onc she went to. Can't believe I'm back in that same officer again so soon. I miss her more and more with each passing day. My only comfort is she is with my dad now! I just go sit in their house, can't bear to touch a thing. I wonder when I'll be strong enough, both physically and emotionally to tackle the job.

sal314
Posts: 633
Joined: Jul 2010

Susie:( You have a lot going on! If you ever want to private email me, please feel free. I'm a 91/2 year breast cancer survivor myself. I just turned 45 last week:) I also have two small kids. My son was only 15 months old when I was diagnosed. My daughter was a miracle "post chemo" child, she's 6. So...if I can be of encouragement, I'd love to help you anyway I can. You are stronger than you think! Keep positive...I know it's scary, but the treatments today are so much better than they use to be. There are thousands of us survivors!!

Best,
Sally

Stargzr
Posts: 47
Joined: Mar 2011

I am so sorry for your loss and for what you are going through.

Beckymarie
Posts: 358
Joined: Aug 2009

Al,

My husband died one week before our 32 anniversary. It has been a little over 9 months and it is an everyday struggle. Maybe to tackle one thing at a time, like the closet one week, her bureau another. Is there someone who could help you? Unfortunately there is no easy way to do this. I am still in the process of going through Terry's things. Good luck and I hope you find a new home soon.

tabur's picture
tabur
Posts: 71
Joined: Jul 2009

I am so sorry for your loss. 32 years. Terry was obviously your guy, just as Pam was my girl.

A Realtor was showing me some townhouses and one in particular, when we walked into the kitchen, I lost it. Sobbing, tears just started streaming down my face. Scared the hell out of the poor woman. What did it? The green ivy stenciling on the wall. I flashed back to when Pam did the exact same stencil job in our bedroom. She loved doing things like that around the house. I didn't buy that townhouse.

Yesterday, I signed a sales agreement on a brand new townhouse. Closing is scheduled for April 29th. My daughter is going to help me go through Pam's clothing. I'll probably keep an item or two, at least for awhile.

Al

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1616
Joined: Aug 2009

My husband and I had 42 years. We shouldn't expect to just go on as if everything is ok. It's not. Crying often happens for very unexpected reasons. Sometimes it's big things, sometimes it's little things. I lost my husband 17 months ago and I am still working through my grief. I have learned to accept my tears and down days. Time does make that a little easier. Take care, Fay

mswijiknyc's picture
mswijiknyc
Posts: 421
Joined: Oct 2010

"Yesterday, I signed a sales agreement on a brand new townhouse. Closing is scheduled for April 29th. My daughter is going to help me go through Pam's clothing. I'll probably keep an item or two, at least for awhile."

Although I wasn't married as long, I plan on keeping more than just an item or two. If it can fit in one of the two clear plastic tubs I have, or the suitcase I have that I keep photo albums in (we moved alot can you tell :)) it's staying with me. For the time being I plan on keeping his Carhartt jacket on the peg hanging by the door, and his boots in the closet.

I'll be moving soon as well, most likely in May or June, and Patrick is coming with me. Boots in the new closet, and Carhartt still by the door. He's following my a$$ around anyway may as well make it official his home is still with me. Like that crazy Irishman would ever leave me alone long enough to feel bad . . . riiiiiiiight.

skipper85's picture
skipper85
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010

Reading your post brought tears to my eyes. I kept Paul's motorcycle boots and his work boots in the closet. I also have his old leather jacket. Every once in awhile I bury my face it it and just hold it close to me. I also kept the American Flag license plate he had on the front of his truck (we are a very patriotic family). Many things I've given to my kids. They really miss their Dad. I don't know if or when I'll move. I just can't make any decisions right now. I don't think I can qualify for another mortgage for a year or two. When and if I do move Paul is coming with me in one way or another. He'll always be a part of me.

Skipper

onlyhuman
Posts: 102
Joined: Sep 2009

I lost my husband in dec 09 and had to move (landlord issues) in June 2010.
I gave away a lot of his things ( or so I thought ) but some things are still too hard to let go. The bottom drawer in the bathroom is still his and has all of his toiletries and his shaving gear in there. I have tried a few times in the last week or so to "clear" that drawer but to no success.
I put away some of his clothes to make into memory quilts for my 2 daughters but realised rcently I probably kept enought for 8 quilts (not just 2).
His jacket still hangs in the cupboard. His outdoor shoes still sit at the door.
When I moved I bought new furniture for practically every room in the house. We had decided to start fresh when we finally bought in the new city we had moved to in 2008 and so I kept to that decision. But somehow his touch is still in every room with all the little influences he brought into my life.
I dont think there is a set guideline as to when one is ready to deal with the physical mementos or how much one should hold on to.
I took down our wedding photo when we moved and have not put it up in the new house and that raised a few questions from family but it did not feel right somehow. We have lots of pics around the house of him and the girls have their favourites in their rooms.
I will eventually get to resorting the rest..

neverquit
Posts: 221
Joined: Oct 2010

Al, I just read about the loss of your wife Pam. I am deeply sorry. I can tell you that from my experience and everyone else here, that you are normal. Sometimes the tears just come and that is OK. And as my husband Mike used to say, "It is what it is". Take care and please don't be too hard on yourself.

Beckymarie
Posts: 358
Joined: Aug 2009

I have an older brother that uses that phrase all the time. It has become the family mantra, and so very true. Went to a support group for young widows. So often heard phrase of not wanting to live without a spouse, don't want to accept life as it is. Very understandable, but it is what it is. No one asked us if we wanted to lose our loved ones, but they are gone and we need to work through this and find some peace in our lives. Life is not fair and sometimes really, really sucks.

neverquit
Posts: 221
Joined: Oct 2010

Amen to that Becky, but we will make it through. Sometimes, the scars of life just aren't visible. Take care.

Beckymarie
Posts: 358
Joined: Aug 2009

Congratulations on your new condo. I am trying to get my house ready to go on the market late summer, early fall. The market is so poor right now don't know if I will have much luck selling without taking a beating. Wish my Terry was here to do this. I hate crying in front of people but on occasion I just can't help but break down. It's okay. We've suffered a tremendous loss. Good luck with the new place.
Becky

Stargzr
Posts: 47
Joined: Mar 2011

Every so often, I just open my husband's closet and hug his jackets. Hos shoes are still lined up by our front door. I keep his hair brush in plastic so that it will retain the scent of his hair for as long as possible. I know what you mean about your closet ... mine is full of gifts from Bob and good memories - that sometimes help to ease the loneliness and other times just break my heart. I guess there is no hurry to clean out our loved one's closet.

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