When my 78-mother-in-law, DeAnne Mack, died suddenly in 2018, the chore of cleaning out the Omaha, Neb. house she’d lived in for over 50 years fell to my husband and me. We weren’t looking forward to it. DeAnne, we knew, had been hoarding for decades.

For my husband, the task of sifting through piles of his mother’s possessions — at first sight, mostly dime store junk and trash — unearthed long-held feelings of shame, embarrassment and anger. DeAnne’s hoarding had been a constant battle between the two of them for years. There was begging, threats and finally, punishment when my husband and his sister stopped visiting the home they’d grown up in.

DeAnne fell somewhere north of a “Level 2” hoarder: a few rooms unusable; piles stacked on furniture; overflowing trash cans; rotting food; mild odors; evidence of insect infestation. And the stage of grief we experienced after her death mimicked her hoarding level. We were firmly stuck in Stage 2 — anger (laced with guilt).

Remember, if you or someone you know is suffering from hoarding, you can contact us at www.facebook.com/CloudsEndCIC for help.

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