If you feel guilty about getting rid of a hoard of sentimental items from your home, you’re not alone. Throwing sentimental items away can seem like the ultimate act of betrayal.
However, there’s a pain-free way to get rid of sentimental items. Rather than avoid the issue, it’s about filtering and keeping what matters. If everything is important, then nothing is important.
Some simple steps help make the process easier. Here are some tried and trusted techniques to assist you in sorting the valuables from the clutter, so you keep only what matters.
Should You Keep Sentimental Items?
There is no right or wrong answer about what or how much to keep. Every person is different and has their own significant and special items, no matter how insignificant or bizarre they might seem.
If you have children, it’s even easier to accumulate items like a cherished painting, a school certificate, or a homemade gift.
On the other end, if you’re sorting through the belongings of a loved one who has passed, it might seem heartless to throw them out.
Keepsakes and sentimental items just pile up. They might be intrinsically valuable, like jewelry or worthless in monetary terms, yet invaluable because of what they represent and the nostalgia they evoke.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping sentimental items. Sentimental keepsakes define us and our life journey, but you can’t keep everything. The key is to keep essential sentimental items and let the rest go.
How Do I Let Go of Sentimental Clutter?
1. Group All the Items Together
Your sentimental items may be scattered around the home, or you could already have them stored in a memory box, especially if you have children.
Gather all the items together in place or a box. Consolidating will instantly de-clutter your home, and you’ll feel more in control of your physical space and emotions.
Keeping sentimental items in one place makes reviewing them pleasurable, a voyage into your past, perfect for a rainy afternoon or to share with other family members.
Over time, some items fade in significance. Keeping everything together in one location makes comparing items and reviewing them easier.
When you open that box, certain mementos will jump out at you—others won’t. Perhaps it’s time to discard those you pass over and never pick up.
2. Let Go of Things When You Are Ready
Don’t force the pace. It’ll become apparent when it’s time to let something go. If you throw something out for the sake of it, you’ll almost always regret it.
Don’t throw stuff away and clear it out for the sake of it. Going through this process slowly can seem counterintuitive, but sometimes, it is the best way.
Looking at the items regularly makes letting go more manageable. That’s why it’s so helpful to have them all in one place rather than scattered around your home.
Letting go is a process, so you need to look at the items regularly to progress that journey. You might feel you’re not getting anywhere, but slowly and surely, your psychology will change.
One day you’ll find that you can part with something that would’ve been unthinkable even a few weeks ago.
3. Take Photographs
Recording something visually is an excellent way of keeping a memory alive without holding onto the physical object. Digital storage is effortless and clutter-free.
Why not theme items and create a scene or a tableau? If you have baby items or memories from school days, group them before you take a picture.
You might have paraphernalia gathered from days spent traveling the world. Rather than record each item individually, sometimes it can be nicer to set a stage and capture them collectively.
Social media and most phones automatically make slideshows for you. Some apps create albums for you out of your gallery. Everything is still there, just in digital rather than physical format. Remember, it’s not the item but the memory it evokes.
4. Find Ways of Dealing with Guilt
Many sentimental items evoke happy memories. However, some keepsakes are mementos of a much-loved friend or family member who has passed away. Getting rid of these can feel like a betrayal and evoke feelings of guilt.
You may already have dealt with the bulk of that person’s possessions and simply have a few keepsakes. Sometimes, donating personal items to other family members who may have been too young to have them at the time is nice.
There is no right time or solution to letting go of personal items after a bereavement. Fortunately, the guilt associated with this is well recognized, and there is plenty of advice about the psychology of sorting through a deceased loved one’s possessions.
5. Share the Items in the Family
A child’s memory box is a great gift to give them when they grow up. Symbolic of their journey from babyhood to adult life, this is re-homing rather than throwing away.
You may have items you have kept after the death of a loved one, and it could be time to pass these on to other family members, especially those who were too young at the time to appreciate them.
Not everyone will want to accept your offer, so don’t be offended if they say no. Equally, you might be surprised at who wants a personal item, so don’t pre-judge people.
6. Make a New Item out of Old Ones
Giving an item or several things a new job can be a great way to justify keeping sentimental items that would otherwise be gathering dust.
Making a memory blanket out of baby clothing and small soft toys is very popular. These can be repurposed into something useful and make a great christening gift for grandchildren.
Many people associate memory blankets with grief, but they don’t have to be; they are a great way to repurpose clothing or linens.
If showing dogs or horses used to be your thing, you may have box loads of beautiful silk rosettes, each representing a special memory or occasion. These are almost impossible to throw away.
Some companies turn ribbons into cushions, a great way to make a decorative and valuable item. It’s just one example of making something new out of something old.
7. Write Down Your Thoughts
Sometimes, it’s hard to clarify specific emotions about a particular object. The keepsake might be a memory of a former relationship or time in your life that is bittersweet. Not every item evokes happy thoughts.
If you are unsure how you feel about something, try to write it down. The act of writing or journaling helps us to focus on our exact emotions.
Sometimes, when we dig deeper, we discover that we are keeping items for the wrong reasons or for feelings that are no longer helpful or valid.
8. Donate Items you think could be useful
If you have kept items that have a practical use, such as a treasured chair or piece of furniture you remember as a child, you could sell or donate this item to a cause close to your heart.
Thinking about someone else enjoying a particularly treasured object can make parting with it seem more logical and bearable.
You can donate an item to a cause that has a link to the sentimental object. You might want to gift your father’s favorite chair to the care home where he died or sell it and use the money to donate to a charity close to your heart.
Donating your children’s old toys to a refugee charity or children’s home makes the act of keeping them seem selfish when there are others in need. Donating them to a worthy cause is a reason to part with them.
Sometimes, doing something logical or sensible seems to justify the decision to part with a sentimental item.
9. Don’t Tackle the Challenge While in the Wrong Headspace
Try and pick a time when you are feeling positive and level and avoid times when you are upset or vulnerable. Sometimes, evoking old emotions can be challenging, and this won’t help you make the right decisions.
Want an Ethical Way to Dispose of Old Keepsakes? Get in Touch
Contact Nixxit Junk Removal; we know how hard it is to throw stuff out. We can help you make sense of your clutter and offer partial or complete house clearance with a professional and sympathetic service.