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No Place to Sit

Dear Hannah,

I am a widower in my late 80’s and I feel alone and sad. Many of my close friends have passed away. My two sons live in Toronto. Once a year they visit me in Vancouver for my birthday. The last two times have been miserable. Instead of being happy together, they insist that I have a big problem. It seems that I have collected a lot of stuff, the rooms are full of newspapers, boxes, clothes —all kinds of things which I buy and like to have around. They can no longer stay at my home, and they complain that they can’t even sit down on a chair because it is piled high with books. They told the supervisor of the building about all the clutter, and now the building manager is threatening to call the
city and report me. I feel so confused. What’s wrong with me?

Dear “No Place to Sit”,

Your loneliness may be accompanied by an exaggerated fear of loss. I suggest that you contact Jewish Seniors Alliance and ask for a peer counsellor. Then I would make an appointment with your physician for additional guidance. Your children are concerned. You may have become a “compulsive hoarder.” It is defined as a psychological condition in which people accumulate or are unable to discard possessions. Hoarding can cause fires and accidents. Just a few months ago a man in Burnaby got trapped under boxes and
debris in his apartment: he was rescued by firemen after being pinned down for two days unable to move. Removing excessive accumulated items in an apartment will produce a safe environment in which you can welcome your family members.

What is certain dear “Autumn Romance” is that if you do nothing, nothing will happen. By reaching out and engaging in some of these suggestions, you have an opportunity to enrich your life and perhaps that of another person.