One of the hardest aspects of hoarding that I see on a regular basis is how this problem erodes family relationships.
The clutter takes over the space where one would normally entertain, so there is no room to sit in the living room or dining room. Often times it is impossible to cook a meal, wash a dish or even get a glass of water from the kitchen sink.
While most of us don’t live completely “clutter-free” (seriously-most of us don’t) we are in general able to navigate our homes. Invite our friends, family & neighbors in and in general enjoy the company of others and maintain friendly relationships within our homes.
Hoarding steals the space from families. Hoarding overwhelms both the people and the space and steals the JOY that could potentially be had in that space. When the clutter is towering, teetering, threatening to crash down, it is both physically dangerous and mentally exhausting.
Often folks that hoard lament that their kids or grandkids don’t stop by or visit. Often these same folks simply do not SEE that they have a hoarding issue. They do not SEE the clutter, they do not SEE how it impairs their ability to even have people in their home. Often the person will clear a room or a space for visiting. Depending on the state of the home there can still be lurking dangers, such as mold and odors that make it hard to breathe in the home.
As the adult kid of parents that hoard, I KNOW it is hard to enter the hoarded home, let alone consider spending time in the space at this point for a “visit.” Other folks I know cannot & will not take their children into a hoarded home and that is with good reason! The health of the kids matters more than appeasing the parent that hoards, even when it means risking the anger of the person that hoards.
While often the solutions appear out of reach, there are ways to still maintain a relationship with the person that hoards.
One option is to meet the person that hoards elsewhere. A restaurant, a coffee shop, the zoo, the park or maybe a friend or relative that lives nearby. It IS possible to have & maintain a relationship without focusing on the hoard at every moment. Although I know it can be awkward to be at a restaurant for three hours because there really isn’t anywhere else to go.
It is up to you to set some boundaries about how or if you will be involved with visiting the hoarded home. But it is worth it to consider what you will tolerate. Plan accordingly to maintain a relationship with the person that hoards if you so desire.
Tammi Moses is the founder and Chief Encouragement Officer of Homes Are For Living, LLC which is a Veteran Woman Owned & Operated business located in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, WA. She provides consultations, assessments and workshops on the issue of hoarding and inspiring others to take their adversity and use it for the greater good. She is the voice of #AKOPTH-Adult Kids of Parents That Hoard. She is also a voice & advocate for #YLITH – Youth Living in The Hoard. You can connect with Tammi at firstname.lastname@example.org and on social media.