Dec 4, 2012

Letting Go of Sentimental Items

I shared some tips for decluttering yesterday, but didn't discuss sentimental items, which can be extremely difficult to get rid of. It's hard to let them go because it's like tossing out a part of your life, not just a thing. And the difficulty is compounded if the item(s) are valuable.

I speak from personal experience:

I had some jewelry that I no longer wanted. They had been given to me by loved ones over the years but I never wore them and they truly were clutter. They were the type of items I'd saved for years to give to a daughter if I ever had one. But it's been pretty clear for a while now that I'm never going to have a daughter of my own.

I could have sold the jewelry, but wasn't sure how to start. I didn't know exactly how much my items were worth, and I didn't know how to find a place that would pay me a fair value.

So the items sat in my donate pile for at least a few years. Every time I made a big trip to Salvation Army or Goodwill, I would look at the bag full of small jewelry boxes and think about giving them away. But I was never able to bring myself to do it so the boxes just sat and sat.

Then, a couple of months ago, a friend's house was burglarized and a lot of her jewelry was stolen. She was understandably heartbroken, as much of it was heirloom jewelry treasured in her family.

One night, as I lay falling asleep, it occurred to me that maybe my friend would like the jewelry that I've been saving. She has a young daughter and I couldn't help thinking about how my mother gave me a jewelry box filled with her jewelry when I turned 16. I wanted to make it possible for my friend to do the same for her daughter.

So I organized the jewelry - finally - and gave it to her with a card that said she should give away whatever she didn't want. That way there's no pressure on her to keep anything that's not her taste. But maybe it will help heal her injured heart. She burst out in tears when I gave her the jewelry, and that was how I knew I'd found the right place for my sentimental but unwanted items.

The moral of the story, at least for me, is that it's okay to have a hard time letting go of certain things. If you keep an open mind and heart, the right time to let go will come.


adrienne said...

You're wonderful, and this post reminds me of Kathleen Norris' "How I Came to Drink My Grandmother's Piano." Shown here:

Norris' book Dakota is one that changed my life for the better.

Chief Family Officer said...

Thanks, Adrienne! I love your book recommendations :)

Susan said...

Wow, I loved your post. What a great story. That proves the point how sometimes giving things away can make you feel as blessed as receiving them. Be sure to share this story with your kids as it is good to share examples of thoghtfulness to others with your kids.

Chief Family Officer said...

Exactly! I felt as good as about giving the gift, if not better, than my friend did about receiving it. I especially love that I feel the jewelry ended up in the right place :)