Grieving man’s clutter is a response to loss


Dear Amy: I am a single gay man in my early 60s. I am having a real problem getting beyond grief.

My ex-partner died almost five years ago. We were a couple for 11 years but lived together a total of 21 years and were very good friends.

I was there when he took his last breath, along with two of his dearest friends.

I also lost my younger brother seven years ago and a handful of close friends in between — due mostly to cancer.

My circle of friends has shrunk to almost nothing. I seem to be stuck in grief and can’t move forward. I am a very responsible man. I go to work every day, pay my bills and such, but there is a huge void in my life because so many people in my own little world are gone. I think of them often and truly believe they would never want me to carry on like this. They’d want me to move forward with my life, but I just seem to be stuck.

I have neglected staying on top of clutter at home and repurposing things I’ve been wanting to get rid of for a long time.

I can’t just throw perfectly good things away, but the job of going through everything intimidates me.

I’m thinking of advertising for someone to help (of course, I would pay them), and maybe do one little project/area at a time like the kitchen, then the storage closet, or the spare room, which belonged to my dear ex-partner.

I think I’m afraid of being judged for letting things go. I know I need to get over that but I would appreciate your input about getting beyond this.

— Stuck in Grief

Dear Stuck: “Getting beyond” your grief seems like such a big lift; learning to live differently alongside your grief might be a way to frame your efforts.


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