A common question I receive is the problem of dealing with sentimental clutter. Sentimental clutter are those things you hold onto for no reason other than a memory. You do not have a use for the item. In fact, the item may not even bring you joy. But there is some emotional attachment to the item that is making it difficult to part ways.

I am a big fan of keeping items that bring joy and if they don’t to get them out of your life. But sometimes there are those things we just cannot part ways with! I have a chipped tea cup that my grandma gave me. Not sure why I still have it. My grandma died almost 28 years ago. I don’t even remember her using the tea cup, yet I keep it, displayed in my china hutch.

Clothing of a departed family member is often difficult to part with. They evoke a memory of when the person was wearing it, or in most cases still smells of the person. Grief is an individual process. For some they could donate all of the clothing. Others may never want to part with an item. While still others keep one or two favorites for the rest of their life.

Some of my favorite uses of the clothing of the departed is making a pillow from a favorite shirt. I have a Fargo friend that makes ties and other items from up cycled shirts, often those that are from a departed loved one. My parents have a quilt made from my grandfather’s suits. I have seen a favorite hat of the departed placed on top of the wooden box holding the ashes.

Besides the death of a loved one, I have witnessed client’s struggle with items after a divorce. An event full of sentimental clutter. The pictures, the joint purchases, the wedding gifts, the items from the ceremony. The marriage has ended yet the memories remain.

I believe an important fact to contemplate is if the couple has children. If there are children, you need to take their emotions into consideration. Probably don’t burn the wedding dress. No matter how you feel about your ex-spouse, you will want your children to have the freedom to display photos of their parent. You may be angry and want to cut the faces out of all the photos, but don’t.

Sort, store and display items based not on your emotions, but on those of your children.

In some cases, time does heal. If my clients have room to store items we sort and keep the very special items and place in a box or display if appropriate. The idea is to not keep everything but to whittle it down to the very special or very important! I have my grandma’s salt and pepper shakers, I use them every day. I think of her each time I use them. Sure, they aren’t my st‌yle, but they are part of my heart.

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

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