Tag Archives: loss

soliciting input on hoarding output

For those of you readers who are or have been personally impacted by hoarding, I would love your input on some questions I’m teasing out in my research.

I’m working on “Hoarding Memory” as a manifestation of loss in autobiography, but right now my questions are specifically related to the consequences of hoarding. It seems to me that hoarders hoard because they want to hold on to things, can’t bear to part with them, and then the accumulation over time becomes a sort of comforting nest, even if an isolating one. Although the intention is to save or salvage scraps,the sheer quantity of items quickly creates a storage problem. Consequently, the hoarded things that are meant to be preserved instead become inaccessible, forgotten, lost, and many times destroyed.

From your perspective, what are the other consequences of hoarding either on the objects accumulated or on the person who has accumulated them? Those of us who are in someway related to the hoarder are obviously impacted to varying degrees, so I welcome that insight as well.

Many thanks in advance for sharing.


hoarding ancestors

I keep watching the not-so-inspiring episodes of Who Do You Think You Are as I grow my family tree on Ancestry.com, and this week I was treated to Gwyneth Paltrow calling a great-grandmother a hoarder. It is all the rage, after all, to talk about hoarding. Like many hoarders, this relative suffered a double loss of mom and brother in a short period of time and her college education started to fall apart. Paltrow’s grandfather apparently often said that while growing up his house was not a home and that he and his siblings were sent home from school for being dirty, and so on. His mom just didn’t take good care of him.

Paltrow, like many celebrities featured on this show, had a curiosity to understand the genealogy of mental illness, instability, or other past traumas that the family doesn’t like to talk about. She commented that it’s so hard to know what’s true, even when your family members tell you with some level of certainty about the past.

D.’s mom sent me a class project on family history that D. completed in the 1970s with some nifty details written out by his teenage hand. As I entered these “facts” into Ancestry.com, though, I picked up misspelled names and mistaken roots. A few of my queries came to the same dead-ends as his own family search some thirty years ago. These details, even the recorded ones in the archives, are never fully trustworthy. Names get changed, misspelled, ages mistaken, locations shifted, and names of locations change throughout time as well. It’s a little blurrier the further back we go, and while we can trace the family lineage back through the generations, I somehow do not feel any more certain that this is really who we are or where we come from.

empty but not light

Yesterday I finished reading the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera which spends its final chapters expounding on the noble love that people give their dogs – more noble than love for humans because there is no real power dynamic at play. I read through tears because yesterday I also sent my six year old cocker spaniel to live with a new family. This loss does not bring me lightness. The absence of her dog bed in the living room, or her sad droopy eyes staring up at me hopefully, feels like a gaping wound. There is something missing that has been a fixture of my daily life for the past six years.

Although not nearly animal hoarders, we still have two cats and a dog who will also need new homes. The expense and complications of migrating with four animals is too much, and we know we haven’t been giving the dogs the attention they deserve, especially since the birth of our daughter who is always our priority. I look at her and I know she is what matters most, and she is coping just fine with one less animal in the house.

To me, and I know this is temporary, it just feels like a part of me has been lopped off suddenly. Not quite a limb, but maybe the tip of a toe. It hurts, but I know that extremity is going to make someone else very happy and that she, too, will be frolicking in a new yard and getting the daily walks and pats and hugs she deserves.