Why am I decluttering? ~ By Andréia

I don’t remember exactly why I started decluttering. All I recall is that I was overwhelmed. I told about this here. However that story is over two years old. So why have I continued decluttering, even though I had reduced to a “manageable’ amount of stuff and a big house where I could fit all the storage units my heart could ever desire? I was not sure about the answer. I wanted more space, but more so, I did not want my children to deal with my clutter should something happen to me. There is always going to be some stuff they would have to deal with but less is better right. But why should that matter to me, I would be gone and they would be left with a lot of useful stuff among the clutter too.So there would be no harm, right? Wrong!

Well, yesterday I was watching “Hoarders: Buried alive” and it was a heart breaking episode. The actual hoarder had died, but she had left her hoarded house to her three grown offspring to clean up and return to the bank, as she had mortgaged her house to finance her acquisition of stuff. Sadly her son had been living with her and now has nowhere to live. It had gotten to the point that, had she lived, she would have nowhere to live either as the bank was already planning to foreclose on her mortgage. All caused by her clutter issues, her hoarding that she did not deal with. I know she had a mental illness, but it was a warning for the ones of us who are not sick.

As they started looking for important papers, heirlooms and documents amidst the trash, it was plane to see how lost and angry they were at their mother. As the show progressed and the cleanup team arrived it was so sad that instead of being able to cherish her memory they had to deal with this mess and humiliation. One of the daughters was so furious that she smashed a chair that had been her grandmother’s. I had been ruined amidst the grime caused by the hoarding. All the love was buried beneath the junk and the rats nests (plenty of those, yuck!!!). I felt sorry for them. They had not had the chance to grieve her properly. They could not walk through the house their mother had been living in and sit at her bed and just think about her. They could not gather one last time around her table to remember the good times. Clutter had robbed all that from them.

That was when I thought: “that is why I am clearing my house”. That is why I declutter. I declutter so that I live a full life, so that stuff is just the things that I use. So that my house will have breathing space for me and my family. Space in my bedroom where I teach my five year old to dance. Freedom to make clean up a quick chore, so that I have time to enjoy the good things in life.

And when I go, when I am no longer here, my loved ones will walk into my house, look at those empty spaces, remember me and all the good things that we shared together. Then they can quickly dispose of the physical stuff we all need to live in this world, but, in the end, is just stuff.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter parts of sets that aren’t being utilised. It isn’t compulsory to keep sets together. In the past I have sold or donated attachments to kitchen gadgets, a strainer from a pasta pot, saucers from a dinner set…

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Oh, this is so true! I dread the day/year that I have to clean out 2 barns, 2 storage sheds and a 4 bedroom house of my parents. My mother keeps everything. She is a sewer, quilter, crafter and the stuff is organized and labeled but it’s too much. She’s my motivation to keep on decluttering even though I have a large home and a huge basement.

    • Rebekah – at least it is organised and labelled, but the barns and storage sheds could be challenging. I know someone who knew her grandmother’s time was close and that her time afterwards to clear the estate would be limited, so she quietly researched quilting groups and appropriate charities in advance. She didn’t tell anyone, but afterwards when she was super effeciently getting things organised and out the door, she explained that she done this as she finds hunting down contact people quite stressful and she didn’t want that aspect of the job while she was post-funeral.

    • Hi Rebekah! I think it is going to be quite a burden to deal with everything when she is gone. As Moni suggested you could be organized now. Or you could gently talk to your mother and introduce her to a more decluttered way of life. It won’t be easy, maybe you will convince her to empty a shelf, at the most, but something is better than nothing. And if she ever gets to watch this particular episode, I think she might start to understand your point.

  2. Andreia, This quote from you is great. “That is why I declutter. I declutter so that I live a full life, so that stuff is just the things that I use. So that my house will have breathing space for me and my family.”

    • Deb, that line resonated with me too. Space to live a full life with stuff that are just things to use.

      And I love the next line: “Freedom to make clean up a quick chore, so that I have time to enjoy the good things in life.”

      Freedom to live a good life and not being tied to stuff.

      Thanks for an insightful post, Andréia.

    • Hi! I am glad you enjoyed the post. I did write it from my heart. I had been talking to Colleen on why I was still decluttering, even though things were a lot better (better than ever before, I might add 😉 ), but this episode gave me an epiphany, it showed me what I definitely DID NOT want my children or anyone to go through after I passed. I did omit some details, but at one point they were so desperate they called a medium (person who talks to spirits) to try and get information….It was sad….

      • Oh my. My email service was down yesterday (Wednesday), but I got it back today and just found yesterday’s post about why I declutter, and it referred to the hoarder’s show on TV. Now, we are no where near that kind of situation. But, yes, we have a lot of clutter. We are in our sixties now. And have a grown daughter who is married and has two children of her own. I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom. I kept our home spic and span. I made all of our food from scratch, and also made our clothes (our daughter’s and mine) myself. I taught my daughter drawing and painting and how to read. She was very interested in astronomy and read Cosmos by Carl Sagan in the first grade all by herself. So, she was a very bright girl. So, what happened? My husband was successful and then one day at work, he suffered a career-ending stroke. At the hospital, they did a CT scan. The CT scan revealed that on top of that, he had 3 tumors on his brain. Of course, we went to a very well-known medical center but they determined that the tumors were inoperable. So, we were told to wait and watch. Meanwhile, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s which is progressive. Then, last year, my husband was found to have cancer. He received radiation therapy earlier this year, and now is on chemo. SO, with all of that, I just kind of lost a whole lot of energy. I was tired all the time. Our daughter has a heart condition, and last week she called from work – she was dizzy and felt chest pain. My husband told her to go to the nearest health center. Which she did, but they took her blood pressure, and immediately summoned an ambulance who took her and started an oxygen mask and a nitro-drip on the way to the hospital. They thought she was having a heart attack. It turned out okay, but it was very scary. So much going on. I don’t have a long life expectancy. So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I leave behind. So this post about it was very timely. I have unfinished projects and just a bunch of junk. Plus, our home needs a good declutter and a good cleaning. I also have a heart condition, an enlarged left ventricle with thickened walls. That means I’m more likely to have a heart attack or cardiac arrest. So I’m supposed to take breaks. I’ve been working on decluttering and cleaning. And the more I get rid of, the more I see that I can get rid of. It is shocking. I am finding things that I wonder what in the world was I thinking when I bought it? I have 4 sets of measuring cups. WHY? Also 3 sets of measuring spoons. WHY? I have no idea. So, that is on the list for tomorrow. I’ve already filled the trash bin. And I’m just getting started. I have no idea why I accumulated so much stuff. And lots is good stuff. I don’t know whether to give it away or sell it, My daughter doesn’t want it. I’ve got craft supplies, yarn and needles. I was a knitter, but due to the Parkinson’s, I cannot manipulate the needles. I have good high quality yarn, plus nice needles. Who could I give them to? I would love to leave behind a serene house. With beautiful towels in the linen closet, stacked nicely according to color, and size. Silver polished and placed in the hutch. Tablecloths clean and pressed and stored properly. Plants watered and the dried leaves picked off. Not the clutter. Old magazines not stacked up. Why am I keeping them? I never go back and look at them. So, there is a lot to do. In the spring, I have plans to re-do the landscaping in the front lawn. I’m hoping to be able to have Thanksgiving here. Right now, I can’t do it. Too much clutter. I’m not into self-pity.This is all my own fault. My husband is supportive, but I cannot ask him to help me. He is fighting his cancer. I must take care of him. He is the love of my life. We’ve been married for 36 years. I fell in love with him at first sight. We were engaged 2 months after we met, and married within a year. Never any arguments. It has been nothing but love and respect for each other. Mutual support. He’s been there for me and I’ve been there for him. Now, I need to be there for both of us. I can do it. Thanks for letting me get this out. And thanks Colleen for this excellent series of advice and wisdom. And to all of you who write in. It is all a blessing.

        • Oh Annie, I know you can do it! Just be patient with yourself. As Colleen wisely writes here “It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow”. So keep doing things in your own pace. As for the lovely stuff you have, find a charity close to your heart and donate it. What we have in excess might be what is missing to someone else who can’t afford it. Ask for help from neighbours and acquaintances. Tell them you are selling/donating stuff. You will see that soon enough there will be people getting this excess out of your hands. I hope your health and your husband’s stays stable so you can enjoy all the good that your changes will bring. My warmest regards to your daughter and may she be healthy. Your house will look great again. Trust yourself.

        • Annie – I wish I could pop over and lend a hand. I admire your perseverence despite all the obstacles. Is there a community service or group in your area to assist the elderly and infirm with household chores/projects? Or do you belong to a church group, often they can coordinate assistance. Do you belong to a support group for your or your husbands illness? The coordinator may be able to help or know where to go to enquire for help.

          I get the impression that you know how you want to pare down your kitchen especially, its the finding somewhere for the items to go that is often the hurdle that slows down progress. I have a box that I put things into as I decide it is going, I dont worry about how or when or where the item is going at that stage but it allows me clear that item from the shelf or cupboard or ???

          When the box is full I take it to my local Charity store and anything they dont want (which is hardly ever) I can list on Freecycle and someone takes it away. I use Freecycle a lot and have found thru it various community organisations who are always grateful for household items, and one box of mismatched crockery and cutlery etc went to a young couple newly arrived in the country.

          I admire that you are working on your home now and thank you for sharing your story.

        • My best wishes for you, Annie! but don’t just think of what you leave behind. Think of all the good you can do with donating responsibly now instead of things being trashed at some point in the future because they are outdated, perished or simply too much to deal with. Plus the peace of mind will be a great gift to your health. You are kind and smart to start it now.

  3. Andreia, this is a great article, and I agree with you totally . . . I, too, want to make it as easy as possible for my two daughters when I am gone . . . this is great motivation to keep me decluttering! I love your comment concerning our house having “breathing space.”

  4. Andreia, it was precisely the fear of what my folks would do with my stuff that triggered the urgency in me to purge stuff. And the joy of giving something away is unmatched.

    That story made me shudder. I had an aunt who hoarded, but not to this extent. Still, her kids hated her for all that she collected. Sigh.

    Thank you. I love Colleen’s newsletter and find it very inspiring. Thank you Colleen!

    • Hi Vidya! “Hoarders” has been, since 2011 a show that triggered in me an unreasonable urge to declutter. Be it papers, clothes, books, you name it I have decluttered lots of those while “Hoarders” was showing on TV. I think what scared me the most was and is that I could be that person. I had 2 rooms in my house filled to the brims. I emptied them because I had children, but what if I decided to fill other spaces? What if I bought a bigger house? So i try to remember always that I will be gone someday, but whatever stuff I decide to have will be dealt with by someone else. Whether it will be a easy and quick job or they will end up hating me for it (as your cousins did your aunt) is entirely up to me.

      • Andreia – I observed that my entire family had a car-crash morbid fascination with watching Hoarders, didn’t want to watch it but just had to watch it. What I noticed was each member of the family reacted to different episodes, usually a person that on some small level they identified with.

        I am reading a book written by the psychologist from the series of Hoarders: Buried Alive – I saw it on the shelf of the library and grabbed it – and the good news is that we would have fallen into the category of “pseudo hoarders” not actual hoarders. Pseudo hoarders keep it to particular areas of the house and can see what they are doing and can change their ways without psychological help.

        I’m hoping we get the next season of Hoarders in the New Year as it always seems to generate a fresh burst of energy from the rest of the family to do some culling after an episode of Hoarders.

        • Hi Moni! Glad you are saying that (about us being “pseudo-hoarders”), still pseudo or real, hoarding is awful…

  5. Great post! I saw that episode a while back, and I felt horrible for those people. They were under the impression the house had been paid off, and in the end it wasn’t. Thinking about my legacy has caused me to dispose of some things I might have otherwise held onto. I have found horribly embarrassing pictures, letters, and other questionable items while decluttering (essentially different pieces and parts of my life) . . . and most I have made sure to part with because I really don’t want other people to know that about me after I die. It was embarrassing enough to find some of those items – I horrified myself LOL. Even some of my diaries, I have considered burning. I am sure someone would find it interesting, but do I REALLY want them to know some of those things I said? Or did? Hmmm. Not so much. I think decluttering while alive can preserve your image after death. How do you want yourself to be remembered?

    • Michaela – my husband’s great grandmother had a number of questionable items that surfaced during a big clear out of her property and she was 101 years old!
      I know a lady who in her 30’s found herself incapacitated and needing caregivers for everything, so suddenly without warning her home became a workplace and she struggled with the idea of not only being an invalid but that anything private was suddenly accessible by other people. So while I don’t go around anticipating major injury or sickness, I do keep in the back of my mind that overnight circumstances can change.

    • Hi Michaela! Yes, it was quite an awful episode. Good thing you decided to go through your stuff now. I have some diaries, but they just make me laugh. My adult self really enjoys to read what my teenage self wrote. As I was very privacy conscious even back then (my brother thought he could read anything) I did not embarrass myself because anything I wrote could become public knowledge. However it is good that I am going through everything and I am slowing deciding what I want to keep until the day I die and what can go now. Holding on to past stuff has a down side: instead of living today we are always looking back over our shoulder.
      And Moni, I agree with you, even though we don’t want to be sick, anytime something can happen and we could lose that whole privacy we take for granted. So it is better to leave all in order.

  6. A very powerful post. I declutter for the same reason. My son is an only child and I do not want him to have to go thru all of our stuff when we are gone. I am so grateful that my parents kept downsizing over the years. Yes, there will be things for us sisters to go thru when they are gone, but it will be manageable. And we also know that the things we do not want/can’t take will be accepted by the retirement community they live in.

    My -laws are a different story. They live in a 2 story, 4 bedroom home. It’s not cluttered, but there will be so much stuff to go thru. And they want their children to have it all. My husband knows that I will (and do) take everything his parents give us with a smile, but we will not be keeping everything they give us. And I am so glad he agrees!
    They do have things that were passed on from family, but we do not have the same sentimental attachment to them that his parents do.

    I also declutter just to free up the space and not feel closed in by everything! It is so nice to have open space!

    Since I’m writing, I want to take the time to thank Colleen for this blog. I came across it midway thru her first year. I was already in the process of decluttering my home, this blog let me know I was not alone in my efforts and her posts and the comments were and are a big encouragement. Last year I made it thru each of the rooms in my house. I was ready to start a second pass when instead I started chemo. I tell you this not for sympathy, but to let you know because of the initial work I had done in the house-the house stayed fairly clutter free during the time when I was not well. I can’t tell you guys enough what peace of mind that brought me to have a clutter free and organized house! BTW; good news, I am in remission! I am anxious to have the energy to get back to purging. Right now it is enough that I can keep up with the house and keep it organized.

    • Oh my, this is definitely close to home. I am so glad to hear that you are in remission. My husband saw his radiation oncologist yesterday and they discussed further treatment. Right now, he is on chemo. When he went to radiation therapy, it was about an hour drive away. Thus an hour back home. And, as you know from reading my posts, I have Parkinson’s and cannot drive. While he was gone, I worked more on our kitchen. Plus I decluttered the table beside my chair. I can’t do too much physical without sitting down for rest periods. This is due mostly to the Parkinson’s and also due to the fact that I have a heart condition. (not meant to extract sympathy) Thus, I cannot balance myself well, plus I get out of breath pretty quickly. So work needs doing, but I must do it slowly. Right now, I’m shooting for being able to have our daughter and her husband over for NEXT year’s Thanksgiving Dinner and also Christmas. By then, I will have it done. Plus, we will have saved enough to afford to carpet the living room and dining room. So, it is a balancing act. I am caretaker plus (as a Hindu friend related to me) a house minister. (isn’t that a wonderful term? He said that is how they refer to stay-at-home wives.)
      I am also grateful to Colleen. I only found her about 4 months ago. And the daily encouragement is just so helpful. My husband came home yesterday after a chemo session, and immediately noticed what I had gotten done. And he was happy – even though he was in pain. So we keep plugging along. Today I plan on finishing up some things in the kitchen. After the new year, I will put down new shelf paper in the kitchen. Plus, we are hoping to be able to get a new floor put down. So, thanks everyone and thank you Colleen.

      • Hi Annie, you are doing such a wonderful job of soldiering on there agains adversity. You are an inspiration to others. I wish you lived close by to me because I would be there in an instant to help you in your quest. If you don’t mind my asking you, where do you live? Perhaps a fellow reader lives near by and would be happy to give you some assistance.

        I sincerely hope that the chemo has the desired affect against your husbands illness and they he starts feeling better in the very near future.

        You and Mary S (above) have just inspired me to begin a page, here 365, of inspiring decluttering stories. I will begin putting it together now. In future I will add others as they come along.

    • Hi Mary S, I am sorry to hear you have been unwell but grateful that you are in remission. I am also glad that, due to your decluttering efforts before you fell ill, it made taking the time to recover less stressful for you. I sincerely hope things keep going well for you healthwise from this time forward.

      I am due to move house on the 20th of December. However in the meantime my father has had to have a big op to remove cancer in his bowel. Because my home is so organised, leaving little preparation necessary for the move, I was able to, at short notice, fly interstate to be with my mum and dad during this frightening time. This was a great help and comfort not only to them but to my sister too who was juggling her life to try to be with them as much as possible even though they had to be three hours out of town for the operation. Decluttering certainly has its benefits.

      • Hi Colleen! I hope your Dad is ok. And I hope everything goes well with your moving houses. 🙂 I hope that Mary S and Annie are ok. Their stories really are inspirational. It makes me want to do lots more and not ever feel sorry for myself or procrastinate.

  7. Excellent post! This is why I am decluttering as well. I have spent the last 13 years grieving my mother and the time that we did not get to share together. I reached the age of 40 earlier this year and I am realizing that life really is short. I don’t want to spend the rest of my years cleaning and caring for an excess amount of items. I want to spend my remaining years experiencing life and having adventures with my family. I have been helping to clean up my grandparents house to settle their estate. They had a clutter problem as well and quite honestly we have gotten to the point where most of their collectibles are just trashed or donated to the thrift store. So, truthfully, the things they spent their years accumulating have not gone to their loved ones anyway.

    • Hi Valerie! I hope you can sort out everything. Good luck with your grandparents state. And when you think back try to remember them in a good light and that what is left is just stuff. Even though no one got anything, objects are not important, feelings are.

  8. Absolutely lovely.

  9. Good points Andreia – I know we will likely be left with a lot of my in-laws things to clear and it will be tough. We are trying to help them clutter clear a little now because not only does it help them, I know ultimately it helps us in the long term too.
    I don’t have children to consider but whoever inherits my home, I am pleased to think they won’t have too much stuff of mine to wade through.
    It must be very tough for people to cope with disposing of a life time of their parents things on top of their grief. Good friends of mine have had to do this with a horder parent home recently and it has been very traumatic, especially with the level of pointless broken detritus.

    • Hi Doodle! It is kind of hard not to be touched by these hoarding situations. I have lost loved ones and it is hard to go through the normal everyday stuff, now imagine going through loads and loads of trash (because in the end stuff kind of gets trashed in hoarding) on top of being in grief with your very recent loss. I am hoping, like you, to make the work quick and efficient for whoever has to do it. People don’t like to talk about death and how it is for the ones who stays, but it has to be done. I hope you are successful with your in-laws decluttering.

  10. Excellent post Andréia! You have described so well “the burden of stuff”. It suffocates those who accumulate more than they need and continues to suffocate the family members who have to deal with it after they have gone.
    Enjoy the clutter free life you have created 🙂

    • Thanks Megan S! I am still feeling a little too fueled up in the stuff part. It is like when you go to a restaurant and you eat that little bite more when you are already full and it makes you a little queasy… That is how I feel about the stuff still in my house. I am a bite too much too be satisfied…. 😀

  11. Wow. I can totally relate to this post. My mother recently died, and while not a hoarder, she was not exactly what you might call neat and tidy! There’s a room that’s basically piled 5 feet deep with boxes, craft supplies, and god knows what else… plus, piles and piles of unfiled papers, unopened mail and who knows what else that have to be gone through. To make matters worse, she had moved across the country to retire, so it’s not like we can just go over there to clean things out. My older brother flew out there twice trying to find her will to no avail, and ended up just dumping the piles of papers into 7 boxes and shipping them to himself to try to go through them and deal with it all. I’ve offered to help, but we live in different cities, so he’d have to ship the boxes to me…

    Anyhow, it’s a total mess, in more ways than one, and it’s really made me look differently at my own home. I don’t have a lot of stuff, and I try to keep the piles of paperwork down to a minimum, but this has all made me think that I really need to step up my efforts, and look at my life through the eyes of someone trying to put my affairs in order should I meet an untimely end.

    I had a revelation once about stuff that I think I need to keep in mind. None of us really “owns” anything – we’re just using it while we’re here, and eventually we’ll move on and our stuff will need to do so as well. That applies to our physical stuff, but also our money, our pets and just about everything else. I guess it’s a topic that we don’t like to think about, but the older I get, the more I think that part of being a responsible adult is trying to tread lightly through life, and leave a minimal amount of issues to be dealt with by those who we’ll leave behind.

    • Hi EcoCatLady! Your words of wisdom reflect what I think. I was looking at my things a while back and I realized that apart from a few objects I had kept throughout teenage years and a silver cup I got when I was christened, many things had come and gone from my life. To be absolutely honest I can remember about 10 objects that I decluttered in the last 02 years (mostly the ones that went this year). And I decluttered more than 200 items, just in 2013. So if I can’t remember now, why am I so attached to them? Also, there was stuff I did no even remembered I owned, and I was holding on to it. Very best of luck in dealing with your mothers papers and stuff, and I hope you and your brother are able to sort it out as quickly as possible.

  12. Hi Andreia, what a lovely thoughtful post, I really enjoyed reading it. I was lucky, when my mother died she left everything in apple pie order, BUT she had a lot of stuff, good quality, but a LOT, it took us a long time to go through it all. Just as well it was divided between three of us! I also want to leave everything in good order, but a lot less.

    I have had an epiphany today: I was thinking about today’s mini-mission of decluttering parts to kitchen gadgets – I always thought it WAS compulsory to keep them! So I have taken bits from my food processor (never used) and the insert to my rice cooker (I think for steaming fish also never used). All in the charity op shop bag.

    I also realized that I was thinking wrong: looking at something I haven’t used for a long time and wondering if I might use it again some day (mmm… yes is always the answer!). Now I ask myself when did I last use it? So today alone four very pretty snack bowls, two great Tupperware containers and three really good cookery books have been put in a bag for the kids if they want them, or else off to the op shop.

    Oh and yesterday, after planning for a long time, we bought four new patio chairs, they are really nice. I have already phoned the Hospice to come and collect four old plastic chairs and three wicker chairs with cushions. No thinking well if I have a crowd of people I will need them!

    I have been decluttering for quite a while now but it’s never to late to learn new ways of thinking!

    • Hi Janetta! Thanks! I am glad you enjoyed the post. Good for you that you are declutteringa lot. Keep up the good work and be always happy with your achievements. Even a small object is one less object you have to care about.

  13. When my mother died I was an executor of her estate & got her house ready for sale. I still feel grateful to her for the tidiness of her house, with minimal possessions and clothes. It has left me with warm memories of her. It helped me re-assess the state of my own house & the number of my possessions, but then, I am a work in progress.

    • Hi Kathy! Having your mother as an excellent example (I hope when I am gone my stuff/life is as organized as hers) I am sure you are getting results a lot sooner than you expect. Good luck with your decluttering!

  14. Andréia Thank you!
    A wonderful explanation of your path to less things.

  15. Andreia – excellent post.
    I have a morbid fascination watching “Hoarders: Buried Alive” – I will watch out for that episode if it airs here (I get the impression we are a season behind you). I read an article a while back in the paper and it talked briefly about the impact on the grieving process that a tidy and organised estate versus a disorganised and untidy estate had on the descendents. It goes without saying that someone who can say that “XYZ person, left everything in order, not much to be sorted out and clear instructions for the rest” is going to be more fondly remembered than Hoarder Granny. The time after the funeral when loved ones are grieving, its just too vulnerable to have that kind of burden.

    I liked the “stuff is just things I use to live my life” – that is going on my pin board of quotes.

    I, too, have wondered recently why I continued decluttering past a point that would have allowed us to comfortably exist in our home. For me it comes back to that quote by William Morris “Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” . I want to see my home reach that status.

    • Thanks Moni! Although my house is not a hoarding house (I can even show it to Colleen on Skype 😀 ) I watch hoarders to show myself I am not that person. To not be that person. I want to be constantly reminded of what it can turn into if I let it. I want to see ruined stuff, so that I value what I keep and declutter what I don’t care that much about. When my grandmother died, I went to her house with a cousin (she live in adjacent house to my aunt) we made her bed, we sat on it and cried. As stuff was sorted I got some china she used every Christmas and a lovely dresser that had belonged to her grandmother. I got the dresser restored and use the china. I did not suffer going through her stuff. That is why the episode made an impact. When she got the dresser she was in her sixties and a niece of hers had almost ruined it. She used the dresser and took good care of it, but said if it got restored it would be even more beautiful. I did it. Now it holds my linen and towels in a honorable position in my bedroom. And it is a lovely reminder of her. That chair in the episode reminded me of my dresser. Had my grandmother been a hoarder it would be ruined beyond repair. And it would be lost.
      I think, like I said in another comment, that we want to be satisfied when we look at our houses. We want to know what we have and where it is. And that kind of control can only be reached by having less stuff.

  16. I have watched a few episodes of Hoarders and it makes me want to clean out everything. Do you have the link for the episode you watched? I had to go through all my dad’s stuff and there was so much stuff. My poor kids won’t have much to inherit since I had gotten rid of most everything I don’t absolutely need. Hopefully they will focus on the good times instead. I enjoyed your post. Thanks!

    • Hi Spendwisemom! I watched it on cable and I really don’t know where to find it on the web. I get that “let’s declutter all excess NOW” everytime I watch hoarders. Without clutter on the way, the good times will always be first in your kid’s mind when they remember you.

  17. I think the saddest thing for these people is the difficulty they will face in separating ‘mother’ and ‘hoarder’ and seeing them as two separate parts of the same woman. I fear that they will for a very long time, if not permanently, see only the hoarder, and not the mother they also had. In a sense, all that clutter and stress is going to over shadow and ruin all the other memories they had of her and made with her. I think they will have to work hard to let the hoarder side of her go and remember all the other things she was as a person and a mother e.g. Mom was a hoarder, but she also loved flowers and made great waffles or something. Instead they’ll just have anger and that’s sad really. I hope one day they come to remember all of those other things too.

  18. Excellent post! I’ve enjoyed this whole thread. Some great points have been made.

    I’ve mentioned here before that my parents farmed, so when my mother dies, we’ll have a HUGE job trying to clear out a house, a big barn, a garage, a huge storage shed, and a farm stand, and I’m dreading it. Because they grew up in the Depression, my parents found it hard to throw things away, so there is a lot of stuff that will need to be dealt with.

    My mother has recently realized that she lives with too much stuff, but she’s 80, so it’s very slow going for her to look through things and try to decide whether to keep them or let them go.

    Like so many others here, I like to declutter on a regular basis so that stuff doesn’t build up because I wouldn’t want to leave a big job for our children to take care of when we’re gone.

    Reading about the people who have become incapacitated overnight reminds me that I need to continue working on the binder I’ve started of information that somebody would need if something happened to me, information like what to feed our pets, where to find our important papers, how to deal with my online accounts, etc.

    • Becky – I have one of these folders too, I’m also looking at scanning important documents and storing in a cloud facilities in case the house is destroyed in an event.

  19. Andréia, I loved this post!
    The “funny” thing is that I still feel that I have way to much poorly sorted paperwork and other clutter. However, I think I own less than half of what I owned two years ago. It isn’t that much after all, but I think, I learnt that I need even less.

  20. Tonight I am decluttering my emails… This was very very well written. It moved me emotionally. Thank you. I have previously thought about what my family will have to sort through and I am slowly decluttering. However in amongst some of my clutter are many dreams and goals, projects I hope to finish. I keep what I now have because I am slowly making progress and I am enjoying making the things I make. One day I will have to accept I can no longer do these crafts etc. and pass on the things I didn’t get finished. Enjoying life atm for me includes using up the things I have and learning to be real in what I will not be able to use. Oh and not collecting more…


  1. […] read a scary post yesterday titled “Why am I decluttering” that jolted me into faster action.  I realized I cannot afford to be laid back about this. […]