It can be hard to understand how someone can neglect their surroundings and allow their living conditions to deteriorate to the point where their health and safety are at risk. Hoarding is a serous mental condition that shouldn't be taken lightly. While I don't work with hoarders yet I have watched every episode of the television series "Hoarders", And sadly the most common denominator among the hoarders is trauma.
Sometimes a significant loss like the sudden unexpected death of a loved one or the loss of multiple people in a short time can cause an individual's mental health to go straight down the drain. Some become so uncomfortable with loss that they feel the need to hold onto everything even letting go of trash makes them feel the pain of their trauma deep inside on an unconscious level.
Pondering upon my own trauma, I can see how hoarding can sneak up on someone. My mother was diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 47. For 10 years, we watched as her world was ripped out from under her. After her funeral, I was walking to my gate at the airport and as I turned a corner my Dad was there with his ear-to-ear grin. He surprised me with breakfast before we each boarded our flights home to different states. Little did I know that would be the last time I saw my father. Five months later, he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. He had a heart attack, often referred to as a widow maker. You could say he died of a broken heart. Six years later I still suspect foul play. There's even a book published by the suspected perpetrator stating that she predicted his death. But that's a whole other can of worms.
The depression that followed their death was deep and unrelenting. I could barely get out of bed or shower, let alone properly tend to my home. Yes, there was garbage that stayed inside too long, unwashed dishes lying around, and belongings strewn about.
While it never got to the point of a hoarding situation, I can see firsthand how the traumatic death of a loved one could lead to such. Could I have become a hoarder and not a Professional Organizer? Quite possibly!