An article in The Mirror on 3 October, 2019 near broke our hearts, it was so sad. We share it here as a valuable reminder of the hoarding signs we all should know by now. Yet sometimes we overlook these in the rush to get on with our lives.
The lady who sobbed as the house clearers released her from a spider web of junk, could just as well have been our near neighbour. Unbelievably, she spent thirty years trapped in a hallway according to The Mirror, and had to sleep in a deckchair every night.
How On Earth Could This Happen in England of All Places?
The lady lived with her elderly relative for three decades as her tenant. Her relative was a compulsive hoarder who accumulated so much junk that it filled her home. In fact, it was so bad the two slept in deckchairs in the hall every night in winter. However, on warm summer nights they migrated to the garage.
After the elderly relative passed away in 2017, the tenant continued hoarding but at an even faster rate. Eventually, someone heard of her situation and asked a house clearer to help. The clearer took a week to remove 12 tons of rubbish to the tip.
“We found piles of clothes, shoes, books, umbrellas and rotting food tins all over the house when we arrived,” they told The Mirror reporter. “The food cans had been there for so long the contents had vanished and the tins were crumbling.”
However, This Was Not the End of the Tenant’s Sad Story
The landlady left the property to a charity in her will, leaving the tenant without secure tenure. However, there was a small light at the end of the tunnel. The house clearer found a £2,000 piece of jewellery belonging to the tenant under the rubbish.
We wish we had better news regarding the tenant’s future. Kind people have cleaned the house, and given her a bed to sleep in for the first night in decades. We can’t say what the charity will do. It would be nice if they allowed her to stay on, although we fully understand if they are unable to.
Perhaps the Root Cause is Vanishing Communities
The days of three-generation extended families supporting each other seem to have faded before our eyes. The caring communities – if they ever really existed – are largely dysfunctional. We can’t say why social cohesiveness is breaking down.
It may have something to do with the accelerating rate of social change. It is pointless blaming the neighbours of two ladies who clung to wreckage of their past in a cluttered home. It’s sadly becoming less possible to rely on the government to ‘do something’ either.
We encounter many other personal tragedies in the pages of probate. What we read in The Mirror underscores the imperative to plan for the future and old age. Perhaps the people in our story left it too long to do anything about it. We must protect our public institutions who are there to pick up the pieces.