Sold my late dad's house and I'm not coping well today

(22 Posts)

We exchange contracts on Tuesday.

My darling dad died in June last year. He bought the land and had the house built for him & my mum when they got married so we're the only people who ever lived there. My mum died when my brother & I was 7 & 9; dad brought us up alone and never remarried.

My brother lives abroad so it's all been left to me. The last little bits are being moved out tomorrow and the thought I am leaving that house for the last time then is pulling me apart. Th grief suddenly feels completely raw again, like he's only just died.

I feel so bereft. It all feels so final, like I'm losing dad and mum all over again.
I know I need to cry as I've been bottling it up but I feel like I can't stop today. I'm looking at photos of them holding me as a baby outside the house, looking so happy with their lot and so young. It's heart-breaking.

were not was

HerBigChance Sat 10-Nov-12 16:12:01

I'm so sorry. I lost my brother this year and can imagine how heart-breaking it is to sell your father's house. I don't have anything else to add - I just didn't want to read your post without comment.

Thank you. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. It's possibly a similar thing in some ways as you're losing a part of your shared childhood. Only you and your siblings know what that part of your growing up was like and losing him must feel like part of your roots and so part of you has gone.

I feel very rootless. Which is why I'm looking at photos I guess, to reassure myself it was real when very soon most of the tangible things will be gone.

Hopeforever Sat 10-Nov-12 16:20:46

No idea how much grief you are going through, the closest I've been was the sale of my grandparents house and I didn't have to deal with it.

Be kind to yourself, it is a double grief, the death of your father and the loss of your childhood home and all the memories.

Is there someone with you who can support you through this?

HerBigChance Sat 10-Nov-12 16:24:56

Itchy - yes, you've out that very well, that's exactly how I feel. Thankfully, my sister and I can share those memories together still. Looking through photos is very, very hard.

I agree about being kind to yourself: my sister has a phrase for this: "Different ways for different days." Some things are difficult on one day that are not on another. Take good care of yourself.

I am in a similar position. My mum and dad bought their house before it was built in 1962. I have pictures of it during the building from when it was 2 bricks high.
My mum died 20 years ago and my dad is now in a care home with advanced dementia. I have been attempting to clear the house for the last 2 years but it is difficult to find the time and made worse by the fact my parents were reluctant to throw things away so it contains all our memories, toys, old school books, and hundreds of photos and scientific stuff (dad was a scientist).

I would have liked to keep the house but cannot afford to buy my sister out (who incidentally has left all the work to me and is not being very helpful)
It will be really odd to see someone else in the house although it is not on the market yet. I might have to avoid the village for years.

I have the odd moment still when I find something and just burst into tears. I am dreading clearing the loft as I know that is where I will find all the childhood things we did together.
I am trying to focus on happy times and that the house will be full of life again soon rather than sad and empty. I try to look at old photos that make me smile and not dwell on it all being so sad. It is hard.
Sending you a virtual ((((hug))))

Thank you. I'm trying not be maudlin. Dad was very practical and didn't like sentimentality. He had a degenerative illness similar to MND so he spent the last 7 months of his life in a nursing home which he found very hard but never complained. He said at the time it made him realise how little the material things you accrue in your life actually matter and in some ways, that's made it a bit easier when it's come to papers, objects, etc.

That has been a gradual thing, rather than sudden so I think I've come to terms with that. I've been very selective about what I wanted to keep - its mostly photos which I've framed so we can see them very day and I'm trying to be like you about memories, YouveCat. I don't want boxes of dusty remnants that dad probably wouldn't have even wanted himself.

The house itself though, is different matter. I know every inch of that garden, the smell in the garage, the sound of the front door closing. I know where our pets are buried; which trees have which types of apple; which window sills we sat in, reading and playing. It's so much of him and how he made sure we had a great childhood even when our mum died.

I'm just glad it's off the beaten track a bit and we won't pass it often. I'm just dissolving into tears every time I think of it. I feel a wreck.

And I feel for you, youvecat, I really do. It's a very lonely time, even with support. Dh tries to be supportive but it's hard trying to share this feeling of rootlessness and grief with anyone who's not been there.

We sold our family home in July, 10 months after our mum died. I haven't been able to cope going anywhere near since. sad
The only comfort we get is that the new, young, family seem as happy as we were there.
Make sure when you lock up for the last time you have some support. It was incredibly emotionally walking round for the empty house with so many memories. The grief became as raw as the first days after losing my parents.
Take care.

HerBigChance Sat 10-Nov-12 16:51:57

Yes, I feel for you too, Youvecat. Hope you continue to find little things to smile about.

Itchy, your last-but-one paragraph is beautifully described.

Thank you.
I was thinking about writing the new owners a letter and leaving it in the house. Just with some practical details like info about the fruit trees, history of the house, quirks, etc. also exactly where the dogs are buried in case the doing any garden renovations (oh dear).

Or will they think I'm bonkers?

I was going to do the same Itchy. I have the original brochure with plans of the houses when they were designed with Dad's notes on it and the measurements. Presumably for carpets etc they were planning on.
Was thinking of copying it and the photos of the house being built and leaving for the new owners
If they think we are bonkers. So what? it will make us feel better, and I know I would find it nice if I was to move and find something like that. grin
thankyou for the kind thoughts. Dramajustfollowsme I know I'm going to find it hard to go anywhere near the village too.

I left a letter to the new owners with just that kind of info (rabbits not dogs!) Also as they were new to the area about decent tradesmen etc.
I also took a rose cutting and have planted in my garden so that we still have a piece of the garden.

SheilaWheeler Sat 10-Nov-12 17:40:20

I felt much the same when my dad died 6 years ago. Mum had died 5 years before that.

I left all the purchase details and building plans of the house - it was bought new back in the 80's. I also left all the appliance instructions, a note of bin day etc. I left a card saying I hoped that they would make the house the happy family home it deserves to be. Oh, and a bottle of fizz.

It took a long time to be able to look at the house again but now they have done so much work on it it's not 'our' house any more.

It takes a long time but it does gradually get easier.

Thank you Sheila. The card idea is lovely. I know it'll get better eventually, having been through dad's actual death and I keep trying to focus on that. I think it's just taken me by surprise to be feeling like this. I wasn't expecting it to feel so raw again.

The cuttings idea is a lovely one. There's a huge red acer tree in the garden that looks beautiful at the moment. I think I'll take some leaves & press them & frame them, maybe with a photo.

I'll definitely write that letter too.

Dh has just come back from moving some more stuff from the house. His dad has now offered to help him tomorrow so there may not be the need for me to go again. I'm so torn. Do I leave it now, knowing I walked away today without needing to go through the heartbreak of saying goodbye to the house? Or should I go one last time now, even though I will be thoroughly gutted to drive away?

madasa Sun 11-Nov-12 08:45:49

I feel for you Itchy.

I have just gone through the same thing and I thought my heart would break.

For the last three months my DP did anything that needed doing in the house...I couldn't face it.

In a way it is better now, now that I know I can't drive there in the middle of the night just to try and imagine him in 'his' chair....torturing myself.

I didn't go back for a final goodbye to the house, but only you can make that decision. Would DP go with you so that you are not alone?

My dad was a keen gardener so I have some of his plants in the garden smile

Your mum and dad are in your heart as are your memories....you will never ever lose those.

Take care x

SheilaWheeler Sun 11-Nov-12 08:54:48

I went back. I checked everything was spotless - it never was when we lived there!

With the rooms empty and cold (winter, heating off), no furniture or pictures, no-one else there, it seemed that it wasn't ours any more which made it easier somehow to move on.

Follyfoot Sun 11-Nov-12 09:04:20

Oh Itchy sad

Might it help to say a final goodbye however sad? A kind of full stop instead of leaving things mid sentence.... Think that is what I would do.

Your loss is still very new and grief is like a roller coaster isnt it; just when you think you are on a level bit, your feet are taken away from you all over again. All the very best whatever you decide.

Fuchzia Sun 11-Nov-12 09:07:04

I felt the same way about my GPs house. It was very hard to pack up someone's life but we had to rent it to cover the nursing fees. He knew it was happening and was very sad about all his possessions 'going to the four winds' I felt like I was losing my childhood. Once the place was cleared and reprinted it I felt a lot better about it. It didn't feel like his anymore and a lovely young family now live there.

I've kept far to much of his stuff tho as have my parents. I think I have just made whoever will clear out my house one day life's much harder.

Can you use a part of the proceeds to buy an Acer tree for your garden? Or another long-term tree/plant? As a memento. Something living to go and touch?

Crying all over again now at these lovely posts. Have given myself a headache from crying so much in the last 24hours, but I guess it was coming.

Dh and his dad have just left; dh is fine with them doing the last bit of shifting and has left it up to me whether I go again today.

I have decided I will go. Another friend suggested I go round with a photo of dad and have a little toast ( he was an avid wine-maker) which I know probably sounds silly but the thought of that really appealed to me.

It's also made me realise again just how brave my dad was in his illness: he was taken into the nursing home during a chest infection but he never went back to the house; even after he recovered from that particular bout, we all knew he would be 'better off' in the home. It was getting too much for him, and too much for me too, trying to cope with everything. It must have been awful for him knowing he'd never see all his things again and be able to stay in the house he created. Poor dad. But he never once complained.

I think I'll get dh to drive me round, I'll have some time on my own then dh can join me for the last look round (he loved spending time there with dad & they were very close too).

Then I want to go to a garden centre and buy an acer tree. (Is it ok to plant one this time of year?)

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