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How To Get Rid of Sentimental Items?
Old 01-12-2017, 01:34 PM   #1
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How To Get Rid of Sentimental Items?

This isn't a "how to" question as in pack in box, haul off to charity or sell on ebay. But more a how to emotionally let go.

I got too much stuff that's starting to clutter..many are just sentimental. I want to donate or sell on ebay but struggle. How do folks decide what to keep, what to part with?

Here's a good article I found about letting go.

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Initially, I didn’t want to let go of anything. If you’ve ever lost a parent, a loved one, or been through a similarly emotional time, then you understand exactly how hard it was for me to let go of any of those possessions. So instead of letting go, I wanted to cram every trinket, figurine, and piece of oversized furniture into that storage locker in Ohio, floor to ceiling. That way I knew that Mom’s stuff was there if I ever wanted it, if I ever needed access to it for some incomprehensible reason. I even planned to put a few pieces of Mom’s furniture in my home as subtle reminders of her.
Letting Go of Sentimental Items | The Minimalists
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:39 PM   #2
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It's been 14 years since my father died, and I do not think my mother has thrown away any personal effects of him yet. Same story with my mother-in-law, though it has been only 4 years. We just let it be.
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:49 PM   #3
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I highly recommend "Rightsizing Your Life", by Ciji Ware. The book covers the practical, logistical and emotional aspects of downsizing and de-cluttering. She emphasizes choosing the most special and meaningful items and then selling, donating, etc. the rest. Take pictures first if that helps.

DH and I went through downsizing in mid-2015 and now I'm in the process of clearing out after DH's death 2 months ago. The advice still works. I've put several bags of his clothes into the charity bin but I'm wearing one of his sweaters now and his son has claimed DH's old chambray shirt from his Navy days and the two wool caps DH always wore. I culled the best of DS's schoolwork (DS is now 32!) and pitched the rest. It's all a matter of selecting the most important and meaningful and kissing the rest goodbye.
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:24 PM   #4
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As has been suggested in other threads - take pictures, maybe a video (nice to add some narration about the item and why it is important to you). At that point, you can make back ups, store off site, and at least those are protected against a disaster at home.

And if this is from a departed relative, here's a test: if you have other relatives/friends who should be as close to the departed as you were, see if they want to store the items. I'll bet the answer is no. Think about that.

We are also thinking - would any of our kids want this stuff (from previous generations) after we are gone? I doubt it, so why do we hold onto them?

I've got stuff from my Mom's house, I took pictures of much of it, and posted it to a google drive so other relatives could see. After a few years, or when I get to those boxes when de-cluttering, I'll probably offer it up to others in the family, and dispose of most of it.

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Old 01-12-2017, 02:25 PM   #5
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easy, I love everything on the Minimalists website, but that particular essay is a favorite. I still struggle with getting rid of sentimental items, despite believing that "things" don't equal "memories". I guess one way I was able to do it was to separate what was truly sentimental from merely historical. I got rid of the historical stuff much more easily. Not done, still a work in progress!
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:33 PM   #6
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In all honesty, we have to admit that someday all that stuff will end up in a dumpster. Sad but true.

We have some furniture from DW's great-grandparents that is still really nice. Won't get rid of it.

Also some cool historical stuff, like things her 3greats-grandfather used in the War of 1812. Worth nothing intrinsically, but fascinating to both of us. Won't get rid of that stuff either.

The in-between stuff, neither historical nor useful, is the problem. DW is gradually moving toward getting rid of it, but it has filled boxes in the storage room for half a century and will remain there for a while yet.
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:38 PM   #7
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Try sorting into 3 piles:
Get rid of it now.
Wait and see.
No, keeping it forever.

Revisit every 3-5 years and sort again. Amazing as it seems, over time, even some of the "keeping forever pile" moves to "Get rid of it now".
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:39 PM   #8
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We have some "cherished" items from my grandmother that my sisters had to keep (at my Mom's.. not at their houses) that just sit in the garage and collect dust. A picture of the item would be just as sentimental to me.

I keep a "few" smaller sentimental items (a couple of my Dad's rings, a watch, etc) and the rest is eligible for recycling or the trash... though quite often I think of him when I'm using some of his old tools in my Mom's garage... miss the guy a lot.
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:44 PM   #9
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We did it in stages with my parents stuff. First, when they sold the house we grew up in, my sister and I helped get rid of lots of things - they took some things to Florida, my sister and I took some things, and the rest was donated. Then they downsized from the Florida house to a 2-bedroom apartment in PA, and we did the same thing again. After Mom died two years ago, we did one last round. Fortunately for our kids, I didn't want or take much, while my sister had a hard time letting things go - her house is crammed to the gills with my grandparents crystal, china, etc. I do try to edit my "stuff" by looking at it with a critical eye - just as I'm sitting here I see my pretty Italian pasta bowl that is unusable (it cracked when I put too much very hot food in it suddenly several years ago) - it really needs to go as it has no sentimental value either.
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:45 PM   #10
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It really depends on the person and their feelings. For example I grew up in a military family and traveled the world, yet very few mementos were brought into our home. I suspect that was a money issue. Mom's folks from England, Dad estranged from his family, so no family heirlooms to worry about.

As a result I am not really into that kind of stuff. I have 2 lovely monkeypod items from the early 60's when we were in Hawaii and a string of my Mom's pearls..that's it.
My own stuff, I'll offer it once to each of our daughters and if they don't want it, it goes to Goodwill. My Mom turned into a china hoarder later in life and upon her death my sister younger by 13 years went into a meltdown because she couldn't part with any of the several hundred cups and saucers Mom had. It wasn't about the teacups and it's not about the stuff.

Start with a few smaller items or one big item, let them go and see how you feel.
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:54 PM   #11
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In all honesty, we have to admit that someday all that stuff will end up in a dumpster. Sad but true.
I am running into this with two boxes of 8mm movies dating from the late 1940's to the mid 1960's, each with ten 200 foot reels of film, most of them completely full. Dad took the movies and my generation is the last that will be able to put names on most of the people in the movies.

What to do with them? I haven't looked at them since shortly after we moved to WV, at a family gathering 14 years ago. Yes, they can be digitized, but why? Would anyone younger even want to look at them? I thought "probably not, if they don't know who those people are". So I sent out an email to everyone in the family and one cousin who is active in genealogy said he would like them and have them digitized, copied to CD and then everyone can have one. That was the only expression of interest.

Okay, that reduces the footprint but misses the point. It's almost a sure bet that my sister's daughter will take one look at it and throw it out. It's a virtual certainty that her daughter will, she won't have a clue who anyone is and unless she has a high level of interest in family history she won't care.
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Old 01-12-2017, 03:25 PM   #12
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Along the same lines, don't save anything "for special occasions" only--use it or lose it.

Getting rid of sentimental items can be invigorating imo--toss off those shackles to the past.
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
I am running into this with two boxes of 8mm movies dating from the late 1940's to the mid 1960's, each with ten 200 foot reels of film, most of them completely full. Dad took the movies and my generation is the last that will be able to put names on most of the people in the movies.

What to do with them? I haven't looked at them since shortly after we moved to WV, at a family gathering 14 years ago. Yes, they can be digitized, but why? Would anyone younger even want to look at them? I thought "probably not, if they don't know who those people are". So I sent out an email to everyone in the family and one cousin who is active in genealogy said he would like them and have them digitized, copied to CD and then everyone can have one. That was the only expression of interest.

Okay, that reduces the footprint but misses the point. It's almost a sure bet that my sister's daughter will take one look at it and throw it out. It's a virtual certainty that her daughter will, she won't have a clue who anyone is and unless she has a high level of interest in family history she won't care.
We went through the same thing a few years ago... my sister digitized all the old 8mm movies that Dad took from our childhood and gave them to us on a CD. I've watched them perhaps 4 times the first year (a few of those times showing them to other relatives who were in them) and perhaps once since. Since they don't have footprint I won't pitch them but I'm not sure why not.

Ditto with pictures. DW has a file cabinet worths of old pictures that we haven't looked at in 20-30 years. I've move them at least 3-4 times during our marriage... to make it worse, she has notes and stuff from when she was in college (on mimeograph if you remember that).
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:18 PM   #14
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When we married, we had both been in our individual homes for 30 years. We had to combine 2 1800 sq ft houses into one 1400 sq ft home.
All I kept was a curio cabinet. A lot of stuff went to the production people at my office. Everything else went to Goodwill.
My wife has 3 storage tubs in the garage she has not looked at since we moved here in 2007.
We have a friend who still has storage units back in Ohio, as well as here in California. To what end??
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:39 PM   #15
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We have a friend who still has storage units back in Ohio, as well as here in California. To what end??
About 12 years ago we helped two very much loved relatives move from the small house they'd been living in for ~40 years to a much nicer house in DE. In the course of that, we learned that they'd been keeping stuff in two storage units for over 20 years! And yet they hauled it all to DE from MD, much of it in my pickup truck and the U haul trailer behind it, and put it in the basement at the new house. To my knowledge they have not opened a single box.

One of them has since passed away, and the wife is in her mid 80's and not doing so well. The daughter says she will call an auctioneer and say "make it all go away".

This is one reason we are trying to fill at least one extra trash can a week with stuff that has no value to anyone else. This is DW's "week". She is filing trash bags with shredded paper stuff from her father's estate. A couple of years ago we bought the biggest shredder OfficeMax sells when it went on sale, for this purpose.
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:47 PM   #16
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Guilty as charged.

Have given in to nostalgia. Don't throw anything away. No, not saving for the kids, or to sell at a garage sale... just too attached to all the accumulation of stuff over the past. Stacked and packed neatly in the shelves of our garage 10 feet high.

So many tools, electronics, artworks, and many, many boxes of photos going all the way back to the 1860's, my mom, her mom and me...

Yeah... the kids aren't interested in tackling that kind of stuff, so when we go, it'll all go with us. In the meantime, so much fun going through some of the boxes and cartons of interesting things. To take them out and use them for a few days.

It's not a matter of hoarding for future value, because we realize we'll be losing thousands of dollars . Except for the coin and stamp collections, trying to recover the value of signed paintings or liited edition "things", just doesn't appeal.

... and so it's a few Waste Management truckfulls at the end. In the meantime just enjoyment, and knowing that I don't have to go to the hardware, every time something breaks.

Get rid of? indeed... our treasures!
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Old 01-12-2017, 05:02 PM   #17
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When I moved Pops in with me I could only take a small amount of stuff. So I gathered up stuff I thought he would like, yup 8mm movies and the slide projector and a bunch of slides in the carousels as well as picture albums.

After I moved him in I asked if he would like a "movie and slide" night. No.

It's garbage and I'm sorry I didn't bring more tools.
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Old 01-12-2017, 05:12 PM   #18
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There is so much stuff that the younger generation has no use for. Good china that cannot be put in the dishwasher, LLadro figurines, Wedgewood items. etc.
When my MIL died. we took a few small items, and an auctioneer got rid of the rest. I would cost more to ship her china to a buyer than we would get for it.
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Old 01-12-2017, 05:17 PM   #19
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One of my brothers-in-law and his wife like to go to garage sales. They have found and bought jewelry made of real gold and stones that were sold as costume jewelry for a dollar or two. Apparently someone died and the kids did not know there was real money in some stuff. It's sad.
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Old 01-12-2017, 05:22 PM   #20
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I have had thoughts of a BRILLIANT business idea related to this. It is only becoming possible recently due to technology. It would be a flash-in-the pan, as everybody and their brother will be doing this is a couple of years.

How would you like it if you could take a "keepsake" (of reasonable size), and digitize it so that you could "hold it" and look at it on your computer screen, turn it around, etc. and see it from every angle, in every detail as it was - kids' sculptures, plates, ceramics, etc.

It would be an offshoot of some of the current photo scanning businesses. You choose several keepsakes and digitize them so that you could keep them on a USB drive, in the cloud, or other media. The current 3D scanning paradigm is all geared toward scanning so that you can later 3D print the items. This is a different model where you replicate items in full detail only for visual purposes.

For the techno-geeks, here is a neat link about one way to process items with simple tools: Build a DIY Desktop 3d Scanner with infinite resolution.

You can do this (with a little effort) even with a cellphone these days, it just take a bunch of time and computing horsepower.

A "business-class" operation would require some automation, but this is right "on the cusp" today. Here is a review of some more automated scanner systems: https://3dprint.com/138629/2016-3d-s...-buying-guide/

I think this idea fits EXACTLY with some of the OP's questions, or alleviates some of the resistance to just trashing things. It is far better than having to throw things away entirely.

We are looking into this for a small number of items ourselves as we plan to live-aboard our boat beginning in 2 years.

What do you think?
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