She’s thrown away his things without talking to us

Hi this is my first time posting on here and I guess maybe I’m looking for some advice or someone who might have had a similar experience. I lost my beloved dad 15 months ago. I just found out last night that my mum has thrown away practically everything from his home office without talking to me and my sister first about whether we would like to keep anything. There were personal things in there that I really wanted to keep- eg old appointment diaries where he’d written in reminders to post me a birthday card. My mum didn’t see those as having any value and insists that she had to throw it all away for “data protection purposes”. But I wish she’d just thought to talk to me and my sister first - because what’s insignificant to one person can have so much sentimental value to another. since we’ve lost him, my sister and I have been really careful to respect what she wanted to do or things she wanted to keep. In fact, that’s why I didn’t just take things from his office, because I didn’t want her to feel I was taking them without asking her first. Now she’s just gone and binned them anyway and I’m so upset. I can’t talk to her about it unfortunately (though I’ve tried)- she isn’t a very empathetic person. Has anyone experienced anything similar? How did you deal with it?

Hi sorry for your loss my husband passed away January I have to say I haven’t given it a thought that my son and daughter might want any of his belongings I’m sorry if that is bad of me but it just hasn’t entered my head I just took it for granted that if there was something they wanted they would ask me for it but I will certainly make a point tomorrow of asking them please don’t be cross with your mum I’m sure like me she is not thinking straight and meant no harm take care x

Hi Oceanvillage608,
Thank you for taking the time to reply. I’m so sorry for your loss too. It helps to hear your perspective, so I appreciate that, and it’s also really thoughtful of you to think about your own son and daughter like that. We (my sister and I) did ask our mum what she was throwing away and check whether there was anything personal and she insisted not, that’s partly why I’m so upset. I do understand very much what you say about not thinking straight and I have found we all have been grieving in different ways so maybe that’s why it happened. I am still so so upset about it though, in a way it feels like losing him all over again. :pensive: Take care of yourself and thank you again for your message. Jay


Sorry for your loss and the pain and disappointment you are facing.
There are so many sides to the coin when it comes to personnal items.
when my husband lost his dad 5 years ago we were amazed how quickly his mum removed all his dads items. To be fair it was mainly clothes etc has he was not a materialistic man. His dad always wore a Panama hat when on hoilday and Martin asked for that, as a keep sake.

I have since lost my husband Martin and during a conversation with his mum she said she had to remove everything straight away as it was to painful to see the items laying around, untouched. Thats one side of the coin.

I asked my step son if he wanted to go through his dads belongings for anything he wanted to keep, which he did.
My disappointment is, that after going through some bits, cuff links, photos etc, he placed them in a box and then forgot to take them with him. They now sit in the wardrobe, out of sight, out of mind. Not once has he asked about the items … the only things he has remembered to take or even ask about are items of value!! 2 valuable watch, the car. Another side to the coin.

I think what im trying to say here is that in my effort to do the right thing i have been left upset and disappointment in the end result. Another side to the coin.

As a widow i think we tend to act and think in a manner that helps us survive and get through the days. Its like a survival technique. If we really sat down and thought about it, moving grief to the side, i’m sure we would all do things a bit differently. Another side to the coin.

Try not to be to hard on your mum even through your own grief.

Take care

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Hi Dee,
Thanks so much for replying to my post, I’m really touched you took the time and effort to do this. I’m so sorry for your loss.
What you said about your effort to do the right thing, and being left upset and disappointed, has struck a note. My mum threw a lot of things but kept some blank compliment slips from my dad’s business. I think she thought we should keep reminders that he had his own business -and that’s kind of a symbol. I didn’t note my recognition that she’d thought of that and I should have and will - at some stage, when I am able to deal with it all emotionally…
It’s interesting you say there are many sides of the coin – I agree and maybe it’s more of a Rubik’s Cube (if those exist these days?!). I realise that the title of my post implies that the reason I posted is because I’m upset with my mum – and I wish I could go back and change that, because that gave the wrong impression. And I get why reading that would be upsetting for people who are widows with adult children, and I definitely didn’t want to upset or trigger anyone into more pain, so I’m sorry to you, and Oceanvillage608, and anyone else who has read this, for any hurt my post caused. My upset and sadness is actually because those parts of my dad’s life are now gone and there’s no way of getting them back. (The fact that it’s my mum who threw the things away is actually neither here nor there, though again, I totally appreciate that’s probably not the impression my original post gave.) Until the weekend, I had been hoping that I could somehow get to know him a bit better as a person, by going through those little everyday things that seem trivial but give an idea of what a person is like in the day to day. Things like, how he would write stuff down, remember things, personal papers he chose to keep. Does that make sense? I read on this great website, “What’s Your Grief” about how you can continue your relationship with a person even after they have passed away, in many different ways.
I only really got to know my dad as a person (rather than only a dad) in the final decade of his life – and it would have felt very precious to have been able to continue that kind of discovery of him as a person, even though he’s not here on earth anymore. That’s what’s causing my upset and sadness. I guess this has to do with bereavement and grief – because it’s the awful overwhelming pain of him not being here anymore that led me to post on here. I thought maybe other people might have had that experience when things get thrown away or lost (however that happened) and might be able or willing to share how they have coped with that experience.

With your stepson - I don’t know him as a person, obviously, so cannot comment. It sounds like the way he acted was hurtful to you which sounds really tough, at a time when we as bereaved people are in such pain anyway. I have some things of my dad’s (medicine, warm socks, T-shirt) from the day he went into hospital - I put them in a bag and took them with me because I thought he might be staying for a few days. He didn’t, he died that night. I still have the things - but under my sofa, in a bag, out of sight. I cannot bring myself to look at them because it reminds me of that day - but I cannot throw them away either, because it would feel like throwing a part of him away, kind of like throwing my love for him away, because when I packed them I was imagining staying with him at the hospital (as I did once before). I haven’t forgotten them, as you say your stepson has forgotten your husbands/his dad’s things - but I can imagine it might look to someone like I have. I have no idea how relevant this is to your stepson - maybe it isn’t, so please ignore it in that case. I just thought I’d share it.

Anyway, take care and again thank you for replying.


Hi Jay,

There’s absolutely no need to apologise. The great thing about this site you can post and say what you feel. That’s very important. If we can’t say it here then where can we say it. I hope you didn’t thing I was judging you. It’s always just another opinion. :heavy_heart_exclamation:

Grief is so crazy and uncontrollable. Even now when I look back I sometimes wonder did I misinterpret conversation with family members etc. I believe we think we are coping and then we actually realise we were in shock and just muddling though.

I hope you find comfort in some way. I get that you can’t look at your dads item from the hospital. I find some of my husbands things don’t bother me and other things reduce me to tears. I wish there was a book of rules to help us through this mess …… wouldn’t that be so helpful.

Please take care of yourself.
And keep posting if you need to reach out

Love Dee x

my mam died a week ago tomorrow morning and her clothes are already sorted for the charity shops (luckily we were able to pick out what we wanted to remember her by). My dad is just too upset to look at them. But she would be so hurt. He has already planned on replacing all of the furniture, including the oak table and chairs she had from being married 55 years ago. She polished that table every week. She would be absolutely heartbroken for it to be discarded so quickly. He’s in such a rush to get rid of anything that reminds him of her that he’s not processing his grief but rather avoiding it. He seems to be looking forward to his new life. I can’t understand it. I am so appalled at the lack of sensitivity towards her death. I seem to be the only family member to be shocked and upset by it. I was wearing my mam’s brooch today and my sister practically accused me of stealing it because mam’s jewelry is the only things he wants to keep. I had a panic attack trying to get it off me. It was sentimental rather than an expensive piece. She always wore it on her winter coats. Dad said I could have it. I ran away and cannot face going back again. I’m completely devastated by my mam’s death and she would be so hurt by how my family are behaving.