Letting go of sentimental items can be difficult. Of course some people keep hold of items because they hoard things. Others have collections that get out of hand. But holding onto items because of sentimental reasons is a different challenge.
When clutter is causing stress or frustrations, whether sentimental or not, it is time to learn the art of letting go.
First-time parents are often guilty of holding on to things for sentimental reasons. They want to keep every homemade card from their child or every picture ever taken of the child. As much as parents love their children and want to remember them as they were, there comes a time when letting go of mementos is all right.
One option to consider, rather than holding onto the items, is taking photos of them. Line your children’s drawings up on the table and take pictures. If the drawings were when the child was much younger, taking a picture of them will probably suffice. For newer drawings, take a picture of your child with their drawings and be sure to date them. This will also help you to remember specifics about your child at the time.
Other things people do not want to throw away are photographs. It does not matter if the photo is blurry or the subject is cut off – some people simply do not want to let go of them. Rather than holding on to every photograph, choose the best ones and place them in a photo album. Scrapbooking would be another option, especially if you journal about the photos, as well.
What do you do with Grandma Sue’s chipped china that is missing several pieces? It would be difficult to part with the set. However, there is an alternative. Rather than getting rid of the entire set, let each family choose one place setting or cup and saucer to keep. Display them with a photo of Grandma Sue and it becomes more than old dishes; it becomes a way to remember a beloved family member and something that was important to them.
Consider the reasons why you are holding onto sentimental clutter. Did your favorite uncle leave you a piece of artwork when he passed? If you do not love the artwork, you may feel guilty about not wanting to keep it. Remember that letting go of the artwork does not mean that you loved your uncle less. It simply means that you are releasing it to allow someone who will love it to have it.
If you are having a hard time letting go of anything, take a hard look at all you have. This may sound like a strange exercise, but think about the items that you would miss if you lost your home to a natural disaster. If you could easily replace all but a few things, keep only those items that are most important. Let everything else go.
Seek professional help if you cannot bring yourself to let things go. A professional organizer or even therapist can help you work through the emotions attached to the items. They can help you learn the art of letting go.