Norman: The Saddest Hoarder Of Them All

I thought I was becoming immune…

You know, I can’t tell anymore what season of Hoarders we’re in.  I could have sworn that we started Season 5 in the fall, but according to the A&E website we just began last night.  It doesn’t really matter, but it’s another indication that I’m not keeping up with all these newfangled basic cable inventions.

Anyway, through the fall season I felt like I was starting to become immune to the plight of the hoarder.  The featured participants seemed to be getting nastier right along with their houses.  People willing to disown their children, have tantrums and blame everyone else for their situation – it was easy to see the disease but hard to be sympathetic to the afflicted.

Until Norman.  Norman brought back my faith that I am actually human and not without feelings.  For Norman is the saddest hoarder I’ve ever seen – and that includes the Glen the Rat Hoarder.

Norman is a man whose house is just as filled with junk as any other hoarder house, but his story is completely tragic.  Caught in a co-dependent relationship with an alcoholic, disabled girlfriend, Norman simply let his house devolve into squalor as he took care of her needs.  7 weeks before his Hoarders episode was filmed, his girlfriend died in the home, surrounded by debris.  The paramedics he called in a desperate attempt to save her and extract her from the home immediately reported the house and it was condemned.  Norman had to clean up or lose his house.

So here is a man deep in the throes of a very fresh grief, forced to face his hoarding demons.  He isn’t in denial, he isn’t obstinate, he blames nobody for his situation.  He’s simply resigned and defeated and horribly sad.

Hoarders newest therapist, Dr. Melva Green, does her best to handle both Norman’s grief over his lost love and his squalid home as well as helping his family come to terms with the situation.  Cory Chalmers (one of my favorite extreme cleaners) is on hand to be a calm but firm and steady voice of reason about the hoarding situation.  They both understand that Norman is deeply grieving but they need to keep him focused on the hoarding in order to keep him in his house and allow him to process the death of his girlfriend without the further loss of their shared home.

Norman is an amazing guy.  Quiet and thoughtful, he was articulate and so obviously hurting that I just wanted to leave him be and come back and address the hoard a few months later when his wounds weren’t so fresh.  He didn’t have that option and he knew it.  He manically began cleaning on the first day before being overwhelmed with grief and anger.  But even in his distress he didn’t lash out.  Dr. Green and Cory were able to talk him through it and after some time spent with his family he had something of an epiphany.

He recognized his illness.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen that actually happen on air before.  He had been drowning in the mess of his relationship and his trash for so long that he hadn’t stopped to open his eyes and see it for what it was – an illness.  Norman heard the words “you’re sick” and it was as though a light went on.  He looked around and saw his disease in every square inch of his home.  Quite remarkable and his work to clean as much as possible with the team on that second day showed he wasn’t just talking – he walked the walk.

Dr. Green said she felt very positive about Norman’s future.  The end of the episode certainly looked that way.  I hope they feature him on a “where are they now” episode next season.  I want to see a happy Norman, living in his own home and reconnecting with his family.  I can truly say I’ve never been so glad to see a Hoarders episode end on such a positive note.  Of all the people they have featured on the program over the years, Norman may be the one that I most want to see living a happy ending.

You can find more Hoarders articles and information at Everything Hoarders.

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  • Jennifer Slone

    July 25, 2020 at 8:24 am

    It's 2020, watching this rerun for the first time, and I too am looking for an update... Lol

  • OsirisXsgk

    June 17, 2018 at 1:41 am

    I've ran across this blog looking for an update on Norman as well, saw the episode before and recently just rewatched it with my partner and fiending to find out how he's doing.

  • Shari

    May 21, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Does anyone know what happened to Norman after the show? He absolutely rigged at my heart strings. And my husband and I just wanted to hug him :)

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