Hoarding, Grief, and Letting Go
Hoarding can be connected to unresolved grief
Have you ever wondered why some people who have experienced significant loss find solace in accumulating belongings?
If you’ve watched ‘Sort Your Life Out,’ a BBC series that sees much-loved presenter Stacey Solomon and a team of expert declutterers helping people who are struggling to discard personal belongings in their homes, you might have noticed this trend. Hoarding can be connected to unresolved grief.
The Comfort of Clutter
For those who have lost someone close, possessions can become more than just things; they have a story, a memory attached, and an emotional connection. Hoarding isn't merely about accumulating stuff – it's about surrounding yourself with the memories of happier times.
When someone close to you dies, it can leave a big empty hole. The emotional aftermath can be overwhelming, leaving you grappling with a sense of emptiness. In these moments, belongings can step in as silent companions, preserving the warmth and familiarity that grief has stolen away.
Objects, unlike people, don't leave us. They stay, mute witnesses to our joys and sorrows. For those navigating grief, possessions can serve as a link to the past, a bridge connecting them to the memories of loved ones. In the act of hoarding, there is an unconscious transfer of emotional energy – a way of holding on to the intangible by clinging to the tangible.
Hoarding becomes a coping mechanism, a way to maintain a connection to the departed through the physical remnants they left behind. Eventually throwing anything away can feel like another loss, no matter how insignificant the things are. The physical ‘letting go’ of something becomes increasingly harder.
Breaking the Chains
Understanding the emotional roots of hoarding can be the first step towards breaking free from its grip. Acknowledging and processing grief in a healthy way allows you to release the emotional baggage tied to their possessions.
This doesn't mean discarding everything; instead, it involves finding a balance between holding on to meaningful items and letting go of the excessive weight that might be hindering personal growth.
If you need support with hoarding, or you know someone else who does, please do reach out. We have grief specialists who can help you.