Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Local resident finds peace after story featured on `Hoarders'

By Stacey Wang

When her husband died, her house became a reflection of herself and her family life.

There was so much stuff piled up that there was no room to walk, nowhere to put anything.

The devastation of Tom's death caused Janet to turn to compulsive hoarding, which is when an individual obsessively accumulates so much excessive clutter that it creates a debilitating and cramped environment.

Even a photo of Tom, a Whittier Police Department sergeant, sat on top of clutter.

But in a fateful moment that changed her life, cable channel A&E chose her story for the show "Hoarders." Things would change for the better.

"They saved my family. That's what they did," said Janet, 52, who lives in the East San Gabriel Valley. Her full name is being withheld to protect her privacy. "It's like a rebirth for all of us - like a new beginning. We've emerged again without the pain."

Janet was hit hard when her husband, who had a rare heart tumor, passed away on March 11, 2007, two months shy of their 31st anniversary.

"Realizing that you're a widow is hard enough. I never connected being a widow and a single parent," Janet said.

Without Tom, Janet turned to hoarding. Life with her daughters Amy, Becky, Kaitlyn and Savannah fell apart because of it.

"The girls and I, the condition of the house strained our relationship," Janet said.

"It felt like she was just kind of stuck," oldest daughter Amy said..." More