Hoard Almighty

6 Mar

Letterbalm Hoard in HouseDear LetterBalm: My son and daughter-in-law have three kids and live in a house that is sinking into squalor. For the past six years the house has accumulated clutter, garbage and animal messes to the point where my wife and I are concerned for the welfare of our grandchildren. My daughter-in-law is a kind and wonderful person, but she has suffered several emotional reversals, including illness and the deaths of a beloved mother and sister. We think that she’s overwhelmed and is suffering from depression. Our son loves her and makes excuses for her, even as they’ve stopped having anybody visit, including family and their kids’ friends. What can we say?

–Overwhelmed by Clutter

Ms. L.B. believes that we’ll be hearing more about hoarding and other obsessive behaviors as humans find it harder to cope in today’s unforgiving world. Even psychologists and organizing experts admit that real cures are rare. Nonetheless, your big concern now is for your grandchildren, and you must stage an immediate intervention. The two of you meet with your son privately and be firm:

Son, you and your family are in crisis. It is past time to be making excuses for Adele and what is happening to your home and your children. Adele is a lovely woman – you know we adore her. But she is struggling emotionally, and her actions in recent years are destroying your family. Your mother and I are united here: We will help you talk with Adele to seek the expert help she – and, all of you – need to make your home livable again. If things don’t move forward, we must contact city authorities and child welfare services. It would be devastating to lose your kids and possibly your home, but we have no choice. When do you want us to meet with you both?


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