(Names have been changed.)
We got a call from Marybeth’s daughter, Anna, last year. She wasn’t sure what kind of help she wanted or needed, but her concern for her mother was obvious. She tentatively began to explain that she always knew she hadn’t inherited her tidy ways from her mom, a woman of excessive clutter.
Her mom had been a much loved and well-respected administrator at the local Catholic high school for many years. But her desk had quite a reputation for its mountains of paperwork, often overflowing to piles of files on the floor. Their home had a similar feel to it, and Anna, who adored her happy-go-lucky mom, was happy when it was time to leave and set up her own household, with everything in its place.
Anna went on to say that her father had taken very ill the year prior, and when she visited him at home, she noticed that the house looked particularly disheveled and crowded. It was understandable. Dad was sick, and mom, never fond of cleaning up anyway, was fully focused on caring for dad.
When Anna’s dad died 6 months later, Marybeth took it very hard. Anna noticed the house was worse each time she went to see her mom. She offered to do some cleaning, but mom shoed her away, insisting she’d get to it soon.
It was 4 weeks before Anna had a chance to get back over to Marybeth’s for a visit. When she rang the bell, it took Marybeth almost 5 minutes to get to the door, and when she opened it, Anna saw the house was a disaster, and Marybeth was in tears. They cleared the sofa and sat down for a heart-to-heart.
Marybeth admitted that it was her husband who’d kept her hoarding tendencies in check, and that since he’d past away, not only had the clutter gotten worse, she hadn’t been able to throw away her trash. Apparently, it was something she’d struggled with for year, but had been able to cover well enough with a loving husband by her side. He’d been able to keep the house functioning by removing what Marybeth couldn’t. Now, things were out of control.
Anna, with the best of intentions, took charge immediately and hired a Hoarding Cleanup removal crew to clear the house of all the junk and trash. A team of 3 arrived, estimating the project would take 2 full days. Marybeth hung in there for almost an hour before symptoms of a heart attack forced Anna to rush her to the Emergency Room. After a long day of tests, it was determined she’d actually experienced a panic attack. Anna felt terrible, and stuck.
BioHelpers was her next call. She knew the next attempt at hoarding cleanup had to go down differently.
We understood right away. In these situations, cleanup can be a project, or a process.
A cleanup project is devoid of human emotion, straight forward and fast. For some, however, cleanup is a process of untangling one’s self from objects.
It’s a process that takes more time, patience and understanding.
Based on what we learned from Anna, we sent Dan over – not a team. One guy. Dan and Marybeth sat down each morning over coffee and set goals and made a plan for the day.
Dan was careful about the language he used and respectfully asked if he could take an item “out” as opposed to asking if he could “throw it away.”
Each day got progressively more productive as Marybeth grew to trust Dan. He made sure Marybeth was comfortable and used humor to relax and cajole her when she started to stress. The hoarding cleanup process took 8 days.
When the house was finished, their last goodbye was bittersweet. They’d made a great team, and they would miss each other.
Obviously, the job could have been completed in less than half the time. But at what cost? This was Marybeth’s life, not just her stuff, and dismissing her feelings would cause her further damage.
As it turned out, her experience with Dan was a great first step toward her recovery. Anna found her an experienced counselor and Marybeth is making terrific progress. We’re happy for her and proud to have helped.
Although not the case at Marybeth’s home, hoarding cleanup is often followed by bio cleanup.
That’s because it’s not unusual to find rodent and other animal excrement under the clutter. If moisture has been trapped underneath, mold remediation may be needed as well.
BioHelpers is equipped to handle it all, with compassion, so that your life can keep moving.
American Psychiatric Association answers this question: What Is Hoarding Disorder?
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Our trained and compassionate teams can be onsite within 2-4 hours to begin the cleanup process.
We’ll assess the damage, take pictures before, during and after and restore your home to it’s original condition.