Wedding Woes

I have a LOT of feelings about this one

Dear Prudence,
My mom passed away a year ago, and while most of my siblings and I are moving on, my father has decided to erase her. In general he likes to throw things away, but my mom tended to collect keepsakes. Her closet held not only her wardrobe but lots of our baby clothes. My sisters and I were looking forward to using and cherishing these clothes someday, but my little sister came home last week to find the closet empty. My father complained that we expected him to keep these clothes in the closet for years, but it’s not like he’s planning on remodeling and needed to clear it out, and he gave us no notice. My older sister lives out of the state, I live in a very small temporary home, and my little sister still lives at his house, so I don’t know what he expected us to do. I know that he’s suffering in his own way, but he doesn’t seem to understand why we would hold these items so close to our hearts. How can I get through to him that wiping out our mother’s belongings with no warning was hurtful and cruel?

—Mother’s Belongings

Re: I have a LOT of feelings about this one

  • I'm not a fan of Prudie's response.

    I’m rather inclined to see the merit of your father’s decision and his right to make it
    . You say you were “looking forward” to using your mother’s old clothes “someday,” but it doesn’t sound like you communicated that intention to your father, and expected him to keep everything as it was until you were ready. I don’t mean that you intended to take advantage of him, or that the baby clothes were not worth feeling sentimental about, but you should not blame him for having a different relationship to objects, nor for failing to anticipate your unspoken desire. It’s been a year since your mother died, and while it’s true that your father gave you no notice, ultimately it was incumbent upon you to give him notice that you wanted the clothes. The size or the distance of your respective homes is not the issue. Just because you feel hurt (and I do sympathize with those feelings) does not mean that your father was cruel. Consider this an opportunity now to name specifically what remaining possessions of your mother’s are meaningful to you, and that you would like to have (rent a storage unit of your own if you don’t have space in your home), so that you can avoid a repeat of this incident, and so that all of you can grieve in your own ways.
    short+sassy
  • Do. Not. Like. Prudie's. Response.

    I've seen a lot of people go through different reactions after a death {sudden or long-time coming} and this is normal. Does it make it okay? No. I know he didn't do it to be mean, he's just coping differently.

    The kids definitely need to talk with him. Explain what happened and see what his feelings are. After a death, many are tunnel vision and just want to not have the reminders that person isn't around :(
    InLoveInQueens
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2016
    While I don't think the dad was being cruel or 'trying to erase' the mom...He should have at least let the daughters know that he was cleaning shit out on 'x' date and they need to decide what to set aside.  These circumstances are very hard to navigate and everyone has feelings.  And no one's feelings are 'right' or 'wrong', but these types of decisions bring *all* the feelings to a head.  I think Prudie is taking too hard of a line with these daughters. 

    Two stories...

    1) BIL's mom died suddenly the weekend before 09/11/01.  BIL's dad was in the process of converting to JW (from Catholicism...and no one else in the family was taking part of this conversion).  BIL's sister and brother were teenagers (BIL was stationed in KS (I think?) at the time).  BIL's mom did a big to-do at Christmas every year.  BIL's dad didn't put up a tree or buy gifts or acknowledge the holiday at all starting that year and it has continued to today.   That's fucking erasing someone.

    2) FIL picked out MIL's headstone without anyone's input.  DH's uncle's wife said something to FIL about picking out MIL's headstone (like insinuated that she should somehow be involved, which she has a problem with inserting herself into situations) and I guess FIL freaked out and made the appt to take care of it without telling DH or BIL.  I *know* they both had feelings about it.  Yes, it was their money and his right to do it on his own, but DH and BIL are not wrong for wanting to go with him to help and for being hurt/confused that FIL did that w/o them or even asking if they were interested in going with him. 
    charlotte989875OliveOilsMom
  • bleve0821bleve0821 The Shire member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    I think both parties should have talked to each other from the beginning.  I don't see any fault or blame here.  I don't think Dad was in the wrong to throw the clothes out, and I don't think LW and sisters are wrong to be hurt.  But the breakdown in communication was unnecessary.  Dad could have said, "I'm cleaning out Mom's closet, do you guys want anything?" And kids could have said at some point in the intervening 365 days, "We'd like to keep XYZ of Mom's, please don't toss it or give it away."  Everyone here lost someone they loved deeply, and clearly no one is coping in the same way.  I think a lot of assumptions were made because there wasn't a lot of talk.  It's unfortunate, but it could have been avoided.

    I had tunnel vision when Toothless died.  DH kept asking if I needed him to leave work (his second day at his new job), and I said something really ambiguous, so he didn't.  It didn't occur to me that he was asking if he could come say goodbye, too.  Obviously not quite the same thing, but still.  I still have tremendous guilt over that.


    "And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me..."
    --Philip Pullman

    mrsconn23cowgirl8238OliveOilsMomOurWildKingdom


  • My mum one day came home and neighbour was tossing out a bunch of stuff. When she asked if everything was okay, he said that it was all his belated wife's things. "I don't want them in my house." was the exact thing said.

    I spent the weekend after TG last year tearing through closets at FIL's house with SIL and figuring out what to keep, throw away, or donate.   It was exactly one week after MIL died.   He asked us to do it because he knew it would be too overwhelming to do on his own.  And he didn't want to open the closet and see all her stuff just there.  
  • DrillSergeantCatDrillSergeantCat Oklahoma City, OK member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    I'm on Prudie's side on this one. Unless sisters told dad, "Hey. We would like to have these specific items and we'll be there on this day to pick them up" then they really can't be upset that he got rid of them. Men are notoriously not mind readers nor subtle hint picker uppers. You can't place claim on someone else's stuff and, sadly for sisters, when mom died, her stuff became dads. I understand the LW feeling upset, but she needs to understand that asking her father to hold onto those things might be construed as cruel to him.
    Ro041SP29SaintPaulGal
  • mrsconn23 said:


    My mum one day came home and neighbour was tossing out a bunch of stuff. When she asked if everything was okay, he said that it was all his belated wife's things. "I don't want them in my house." was the exact thing said.

    I spent the weekend after TG last year tearing through closets at FIL's house with SIL and figuring out what to keep, throw away, or donate.   It was exactly one week after MIL died.   He asked us to do it because he knew it would be too overwhelming to do on his own.  And he didn't want to open the closet and see all her stuff just there.  
    I get why, but part of me feels like it's wrong to do so soon. I personally feel people should calm down, cope with the situation and then decide. If they still want to do that then fine, but it's just a hard situation to deal with :(
    mrsconn23
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2016
    mrsconn23 said:


    My mum one day came home and neighbour was tossing out a bunch of stuff. When she asked if everything was okay, he said that it was all his belated wife's things. "I don't want them in my house." was the exact thing said.

    I spent the weekend after TG last year tearing through closets at FIL's house with SIL and figuring out what to keep, throw away, or donate.   It was exactly one week after MIL died.   He asked us to do it because he knew it would be too overwhelming to do on his own.  And he didn't want to open the closet and see all her stuff just there.  
    I get why, but part of me feels like it's wrong to do so soon. I personally feel people should calm down, cope with the situation and then decide. If they still want to do that then fine, but it's just a hard situation to deal with :(
    We didn't get rid of keepsakes, knick-knacks, or jewelry.  However, MIL was a damn hoarder and had clothes that were 30+ years old.  And none of us were going to wear them or have a reason to keep them. 

    Some of her shirts that she wore often were kept.  We had my mom turn some of them into pillows and we have more that my mom said she would make pillows out of as well. 

    Plus SIL is the only girl and lives OOT...so time an issue as she had a  plane ticket home.  We ran certain things by FIL, but for the most part SIL took charge on the personal effects. 
    MissKittyDangercharlotte989875
  • mrsconn23 said:
    mrsconn23 said:


    My mum one day came home and neighbour was tossing out a bunch of stuff. When she asked if everything was okay, he said that it was all his belated wife's things. "I don't want them in my house." was the exact thing said.

    I spent the weekend after TG last year tearing through closets at FIL's house with SIL and figuring out what to keep, throw away, or donate.   It was exactly one week after MIL died.   He asked us to do it because he knew it would be too overwhelming to do on his own.  And he didn't want to open the closet and see all her stuff just there.  
    I get why, but part of me feels like it's wrong to do so soon. I personally feel people should calm down, cope with the situation and then decide. If they still want to do that then fine, but it's just a hard situation to deal with :(
    We didn't get rid of keepsakes, knick-knacks, or jewelry.  However, MIL was a damn hoarder and had clothes that were 30+ years old.  And none of us were going to wear them or have a reason to keep them. 

    Some of her shirts that she wore often were kept.  We had my mom turn some of them into pillows and we have more that my mom said she would make pillows out of as well. 
    Ahh I see, that makes sense. My mum's neighbour tossed everything. Anything that was hers got tossed.
    Tbh it doesn't sound like the LW's father did what you did unfortunately.
    mrsconn23
  • Can everyone in the family be a little wrong on this one? I think LW and siblings should have explicitly told Dad they wanted the clothing and taken the things they wanted. Even if they had to rent a shortage room or pod to do it. They can't expect Dad to just keep this stuff forever. But also I think Dad should have given them a heads up that he was going to get rid of it and for them to come get what they want by x date or it goes in the bin. 

    Moving forward, LW should go pick up when she wants and not expect to be able to store things at her Dads indefinitely. 

    THIS!  I think both the daughters and the dad have some blame to share.  I do lean more on prudie's side though.  Its been a YEAR.  Yes everyone was close to her, but if they didn't stake a claim after a year and I think the dad had every right to start getting rid of those things.

    Story:  My grandmother passed away in early October.  It was both sudden but somewhat expected (she was in her mid 80s and not the best of health).  She had fallen out of bed at 3am after suffering a small stroke and was in the hospital for two weeks before she passed.

    My family does not grieve in a "typical" way.  We do get sad and choked up sometimes, but we tend to celebrate the life someone lived as opposed to grieving a loss.  We are the weird ones that will be laughing at a funeral because we just remembered something funny that the person did 20 years ago...its just how we cope.  We are also more of a practical sort.  In my family we often say, "its just stuff".  So it wasn't too surprising to hear that my parents were going through my grandma's home and cleaning things out the day after the funeral.  Part of it was out of necessity (her last dog liked to pee in the house so the rugs, couch and bedding all went out the door in a week) and part of it was just "it's only stuff". 

    However with all that said my parents made it very clear that if anyone in the family wanted something that they should speak up and they would gladly place it aside.  Also, many of her more personal items like collectibles and jewelry are still stashed away incase someone wants them.  I believe the new year was the agreed upon cut-off time.  After that it all goes away.

    short+sassylovesclimbingSP29
  • Can everyone in the family be a little wrong on this one? I think LW and siblings should have explicitly told Dad they wanted the clothing and taken the things they wanted. Even if they had to rent a shortage room or pod to do it. They can't expect Dad to just keep this stuff forever. But also I think Dad should have given them a heads up that he was going to get rid of it and for them to come get what they want by x date or it goes in the bin. 

    Moving forward, LW should go pick up when she wants and not expect to be able to store things at her Dads indefinitely. 

    THIS!  I think both the daughters and the dad have some blame to share.  I do lean more on prudie's side though.  Its been a YEAR.  Yes everyone was close to her, but if they didn't stake a claim after a year and I think the dad had every right to start getting rid of those things.

    Story:  My grandmother passed away in early October.  It was both sudden but somewhat expected (she was in her mid 80s and not the best of health).  She had fallen out of bed at 3am after suffering a small stroke and was in the hospital for two weeks before she passed.

    My family does not grieve in a "typical" way.  We do get sad and choked up sometimes, but we tend to celebrate the life someone lived as opposed to grieving a loss.  We are the weird ones that will be laughing at a funeral because we just remembered something funny that the person did 20 years ago...its just how we cope.  We are also more of a practical sort.  In my family we often say, "its just stuff".  So it wasn't too surprising to hear that my parents were going through my grandma's home and cleaning things out the day after the funeral.  Part of it was out of necessity (her last dog liked to pee in the house so the rugs, couch and bedding all went out the door in a week) and part of it was just "it's only stuff". 

    However with all that said my parents made it very clear that if anyone in the family wanted something that they should speak up and they would gladly place it aside.  Also, many of her more personal items like collectibles and jewelry are still stashed away incase someone wants them.  I believe the new year was the agreed upon cut-off time.  After that it all goes away.

    I tended to be on Prudie's side from the start, but I missed the bolded on the first read through. Now I'm even more on her side because it's been a year and they seem to have made no move to ask for or get the items. How much space, even in a small house, can a couple boxes of baby clothes possibly take up? (And I say this as someone who grew up with multiple siblings in a very small one-room house with a tiny loft.)

    charlotte989875cowgirl8238
  • I have a good friend who lost her husband unexpectedly.  The one year mark was really difficult for her.  All things him-related had to go in order for her to be able to get through the day of the week and the date (apparently a lot of people have two "anniversaries" in situations like that).  

    Honestly, I am on Prudie's side.  The kids should have approached dad and offered to get a storage unit if they didn't have room for the stuff they wanted.   They shouldn't expect dad to have to come across reminders of his dead spouse because his kids might maybe want some stuff one day.

  • I'm really not a stuff person, so I lean on Prudie's side, honestly.  I can definitely see DH as being the opposite - I'm pretty sure when MIL passes, I'm going to be getting a whole bunch of stuff that I then can't throw away because he won't be able to remember her without it.  
    When DH dies, most of his stuff will be gone pretty quick.  I just don't need that as a constant reminder - it's just how I am.  Stuff is mostly meaningless with few exceptions, so if it is causing me any amount of pain, why keep it longer than I need to? If someone wants some of the stuff they can have it, but I'm not going to hold on to it longer than a year.  I think the father here was being very patient, but maybe he had just reached his limit.

    missJeanLouise
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2016
    I'm mostly on Prudie's side with this.

    I am also a "it's just stuff" kind of person. Sure, specific keepsakes or jewelry I may want to keep, but I think if it was that important to me, I'd ask for it quite soon after the person's passing (because I'd want it to feel close to them).

    I think it would have been nice for LW's Dad to let them know, "I'm going to be getting rid of Mom's stuff this weekend if you guys want anything". And I can understand the LW and her sister feeling hurt (they have the right to feel any way they want), but I don't think LW's Dad was cruel at all. It's been a year- nobody had asked for anything yet. He is not their storage unit. They also need to understand how Dad may perceive these items- maybe he is also a "it's just stuff" person, maybe these items were painful to continually look at, or maybe he is ready to start the next chapter.
  • I'm totally Team Prudie/Team Dad.

    It's not as though she passed on Friday and by Monday there was no trace left of her.  He cleaned out a closet a year after the fact.  If the kids wanted the mementos they had an abundance of time in which to make that known.  And honestly, if they didn't care to retrieve or even mention these things in the last year, I rather doubt they were So Very Meaningful and Important.

    If Dad did this a month after the loss, I think he would have some sort of small obligation to ask if the survivors wanted anything from the personal effects. But a year later, with no requests for the items?  I would consider it completely fair to dispose of things however he chose confident that they were unwanted.
    charlotte989875SP29DrillSergeantCatcowgirl8238
  • Something else I found odd was what the items were.  Mom's old clothes and their old baby clothes.  I could see where there could potentially be a few things that were sentimental in that.  Big maybe.

    But really?  They want their old baby clothes for their own babies that they might have someday?  Babies don't want to wear 1980's neon pink sweatshirts or 1990's grunge shirts anymore than we do.  If they could talk, I'm sure they would tell us that.

    I know.  Baby stuff doesn't go out of fashion as fast as adult stuff.  But now I'm having fun picturing babies in retro clothing.  Little bell bottoms.  Little leg warmers and a sweat band to go with that neon pink sweatshirt.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    OurWildKingdomSP29OliveOilsMomcowgirl8238
  • Something else I found odd was what the items were.  Mom's old clothes and their old baby clothes.  I could see where there could potentially be a few things that were sentimental in that.  Big maybe.

    But really?  They want their old baby clothes for their own babies that they might have someday?  Babies don't want to wear 1980's neon pink sweatshirts or 1990's grunge shirts anymore than we do.  If they could talk, I'm sure they would tell us that.

    I know.  Baby stuff doesn't go out of fashion as fast as adult stuff.  But now I'm having fun picturing babies in retro clothing.  Little bell bottoms.  Little leg warmers and a sweat band to go with that neon pink sweatshirt.

    There are some classic baby clothes (mostly girl stuff) that does stand the test of time. Toddler stuff - not so much.
  • DrillSergeantCatDrillSergeantCat Oklahoma City, OK member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer

    Something else I found odd was what the items were.  Mom's old clothes and their old baby clothes.  I could see where there could potentially be a few things that were sentimental in that.  Big maybe.

    But really?  They want their old baby clothes for their own babies that they might have someday?  Babies don't want to wear 1980's neon pink sweatshirts or 1990's grunge shirts anymore than we do.  If they could talk, I'm sure they would tell us that.

    I know.  Baby stuff doesn't go out of fashion as fast as adult stuff.  But now I'm having fun picturing babies in retro clothing.  Little bell bottoms.  Little leg warmers and a sweat band to go with that neon pink sweatshirt.

    Zulily a couple weeks ago had the most atrocious 80's looking baby clothes. Think Bill Cosby sweater on an infant...
    short+sassy
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