MIL's clothes

harriethomeownerMarch 4, 2008

We have been storing a number of boxes of my MIL's clothes for several years since she went into a nursing home. The clothes we have been storing are all dry-clean-only (wool suits, coats, silk blouses, etc.) and other things like dressy shoes. They are nice clothes, though not expensive or collectibles. Realistically speaking, she will never be able to use these clothes again. At one point, we were about to donate them to a charity that outfits women who need business clothes so they can get better jobs, but then DH just couldn't do it. We have room to store them, so we just kept them.

It's an all-around sad situation. I hate to sound so blunt, but my question is: would it be better to give these things away now or wait until MIL passes away (not imminent)? I keep thinking someone could be using them, and the longer we wait, the more they are likely to deteriorate, even though they are in plastic containers; OTOH, it somehow seems wrong to give them away.

WWYD? Thanks.

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It's not your call, it's your husband's. If there is someone else in the family who you think might agree with you that something needs doing, and you think you can enlist their help to tak to your husband, that's up to you to try it, but you must respect his eventual decision.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 10:42PM
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Keep them. Your DH's feelings are more important than someone being able to use the clothes. Since you have room to store them, just put them out of sight and out of mind. After your MIL passes, you can donate the boxes, unopened.

Another way to look at it....
If the clothes are already several years old (but not quite "vintage"), and appealed to an older woman, it's quite possible they are too dated for a younger woman looking for a job.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 10:43PM
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Hang on to them until my husband was ready to let them go...

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 8:19AM
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Since your husband feels this way, abide by his wishes. I am sure these clothes will be "out of fashion" so to speak and may even deteriorate as time passes, so it's not a big deal. They have no financial value, but he has an emotional link to them. Let them stay where they are for now. In the future , you will be able to say "I told you so". Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 9:13AM
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what does your MIL think?
Are you *sure* she couldn't wear them in the nursing home?

I don't think I'd want to bring it up to her, though perhaps you could if it was couched under some sort "let's get you your nice things to wear--oh, they don't fit anymore! Well, let's order some nice clothes from Lands End instead, and what do we want to do with these?" program.

I don't think you owe it to the world to send those clothes out to other people; nobody's going naked because those clothes aren't in the "clothing supply" stream.

And if instead they are being "used" right now to comfort DH and MIL by being available just in case, then they are being useful where they are.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 9:42AM
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Ditto all--this is the time to use the "emotion" side of your brain and not the practical side. The clothing has meaning above and beyond its actual function.

The other aspect is, only your husband can identify which things have this kind of meaning--it would vary from person to person. So there will never be any way you could make the "right" decision for things involving his relationship with his mother, his hopes, grief over changes in her life.

When my own mother developed some stroke-related memory problems and entered assisted living, I did not have a problem sorting and discarding dresses, shoes and other things she had not worn for 20 yrs already and wouldn't ever again. As "the daughter", I became responsible for getting her new clothes and really anything that she needed. So, while her brain changes eliminated any fretting over the old things, she was still appreciative of appropriate clothing, and we had good mother-daughter times with the new things, which though I was mostly limited to cotton, elastic-waist, easy on and off and all that, I picked out colors and patterns I knew she liked and she was very happy to get compliments on a new blouse or whatever.

OTOH, I could not discard a number of her "intellectual" things, books, writing supplies, partial projects, because these were still tied up in my regrets that she would not ever need these again, either, plus they had more meaning to me as representing who she was as a person, rather than her past clothing. It would not have helped if my husband had tried to convince me that these were no longer needed.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 1:11PM
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Thanks; you all are right RE keeping the clothes. My DH is a very reasonable person, but he's already unhappy enough about his mother and I don't want to add to that. If it were a question of not having room for them, I'm sure he'd be okay with giving them away, but because that's not an issue, I'll just put them in an unused corner out of sight and deal with them at some other time.

I wouldn't want to upset MIL by mentioning the clothes to her. She's not doing very well. Unfortunately, she just can't wear them anymore for various reasons.

Thanks again for the feedback.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 2:26PM
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Just had to log in and say how sweet everyone was with their answers to harriethomeowner. So much more important to focus on what your DH needs, and you clearly are a dear and are doing so. All my best to the the three of you!

Nice board. :-)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 10:28AM
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I would sort through them.

Anything she may possibly still need to use, I'd put in one set of bags/boxes.

I'd also set aside a box/bag/suitcase of nice clothing choices for her when she does pass away... even though that may be many years down the track it would be nice if she was buried in stuff that is actually hers, and if it is all in one suitcase you can just give it to the funeral director quite easily. I wouldn't tell my husband about the purpose of that suitcase.

I'd tell my husband quite firmly that anything that is not likely to be used and has elastic in it must go, because elastic perishes and can spoil stuff it is near when it perishes.

Then the rest of it I'd pack up and store in one of my house's more difficult to use storage areas, basically I'd just forget about it.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 1:58PM
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And, since I didn't see anyone else mention it I must remind you that if you are going to have an open casket you will need one nice dressy outfit for her final viewing. I hope that didn't sound harsh, it wasn't meant to be. (We just buried my MIL a few months ago.)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 2:52PM
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My dear mother told me what she wanted to wear when she was buried and watched me write it down in the notebook I used to keep track of things for her. And, she said, "No jewelry in the casket." I'll never forget those words.

Her clarity and courage made it ever so easy for the family when she passed. My siblings and I didn't, in our grief, have figure out what outfit to send to the funeral home. It was all there in the notebook, and everyone was pleased to carry out this wish of Mom's.

She gave her rings to family members before she died, so the jewelry wasn't even an issue.

Thanks for your love, Mom!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 5:37PM
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