Parting with sentimental items is a very emotional task. Although you may want to keep many things for sentimental reasons, often the size of your home or the act of moving limits how much you can reasonably keep. Many times, an entire lifetime of belongings can be inherited from family members, and discarding that person’s belongings may feel like you’re throwing away a memory. Here are some tips to help part with sentimental items:
Take a Photo
Photographs of items take up much less space than the actual item itself. You could store the photo digitally, frame it, or put it in a photo album, digital album or scrapbook. This way, you will be able to look at and remember the item, but you will not need to store, maintain, and move it with you throughout your lifetime.
Select Only Your Favorites
Pare down collections of items by selecting only your favorites from the collection. For example, if your mother had a large collection of jewelry, select a small number to keep in her memory, and sell, donate, or give away the remaining pieces.
Give Sentimental Items as a Gift
Your family may enjoy receiving a sentimental item as a birthday or holiday gift. For example, one of my organizing clients took a Christmas ornament from her childhood that she had inherited, and wrapped it up as a gift for her sister. This was a one of a kind and very welcome gift.
Find a Place of Honor for the Item(s)
If you are keeping items to honor and remember a loved one, why stuff it in the back of a closet? Find a place of honor for this item, put it on display so you will see it regularly and evoke fond memories.
Come to Terms with an Item that has Served it’s Purpose
If the item you are hanging onto has served it’s purpose, it may be time to let it go and move on. For example, if you saved a car seat from your child who is now in college, realize that it served it’s purpose at the time, but it no longer needs to take up space in your home.
Release the Burden
Sometimes, instead of joyful feelings, the thought of boxes of memorabilia causes burdensome and overwhelmed feelings. If items are just taking up space in a closet, basement, garage or attic, and not being used or looked at, it may be time to release the burden.
Remember, You Are Not Throwing Away Memories
If the sentimental item is connected to a person, remember you aren’t throwing away the person or the memory of the person, you will always have that.
Janet Barclay says
I think it’s important to take a good look at our mementos from time to time. I have a tendency to hang onto things just because I’ve had them for such a long time, when they really aren’t that important to me. I realized that when I downsized a few years ago. More recently, I pulled out a couple of items I’d kept from when I was a baby with the intention of letting my grandchildren use them, and they were so worn out I was embarrassed. I haven’t tossed them yet, but will soon.
Nancy Haworth says
Yes, I agree, it is good to take a look at our mementos occassionally. I think that looking at them just before a move is a great way to re-evaluate items, and maybe save some money on moving costs.
Jill Annis says
It’s true “you aren’t throwing away the person or the memory of the person, you will always have that.” Your statement helps tame the guilty feelings that can also prevent letting go.
Nancy Haworth says
Thank you for commenting. Yes, anything that can tame the guilty feelings will help with this process.
Olive Wagar says
I love finding a place of honor for special treasures! And I know I could quickly gather them up if I needed to in an emergency!! When my oldest son was looking through a bin of items in the garage, he found what he wanted and then calmly said, “These other things have served their purpose. I don’t need them anymore.” So I no longer felt obligated to be the caretaker!!
Nancy Haworth says
It is great that your son said that, so many parents hold onto things for decades even though their children don’t need them anymore.