Decluttering sentimental items is the hardest part of the declutter.
Once you really consider the items however you will know whether or not you really want to keep it.
For example, I gave away 6 bowls that came from my grandparent’s house. They weren’t special or anything but after they passed away I was helping to clear out their house and I thought – oh I need extra bowls for when I have guests over for dinner. It was a very practical decision but the wrong one. The thing is, I clearly remember my grandfather regularly serving ice-cream and strawberries in these bowls and, while I have extremely fond memories of my grandfather using his grandchildren as an excuse to eat ice-cream, I always hated these specific bowls because spoons make a horrible scraping noise at the bottom. I have donated the set but the memory of the ice-cream is not lost with the bowl.
However, I have decided to keep the beautiful knitted tea cosy that always sat on my grandparents’ teapot for as long as I remember because it brings me immense joy to remember having conversations over tea or bringing in the tea tray to the sitting room with biscuits to watch a murder mystery show together. When my father rang me to ask if there was anything from my grandparent’s house I particularly wanted that meant something to me I was surprised when all I could think of were two small items. First was their tea cosy and the second was a framed photo of me as a child that used to sit on their mantelpiece. They had many many grandchildren so I was always chuffed that they kept this picture there. Now it sits on my dresser to remind me that their love and home helped to make me the person I am. These keepsakes from their house are enough to remind me of all the good times. I have so many fabulous memories from my grandparents but those haven’t faded just because I didn’t keep many of their possessions. Of course when I went to help out clearing the house I found odds and ends like the ice-cream bowls. Some survived the declutter for practical reasons (a baking tray I use regularly for example but don’t really associate any memories with) others I gave to charity.
The point is though, other than two specific items, I didn’t keep things for sentimental reasons simply because of where they came from. I didn’t take a lot of things from their house in the first place because it wasn’t individual things I wanted. What I wanted was for all the collective things to stay where they were and for my grandparents to still be living there. When offered items of sentimental value always consider the real reason behind wanting to keep them. Sometimes it is healthier to accept what cannot happen and allow life to move on as it should while keeping fond memories and the feelings of love alive in our hearts and minds. When I decluttered things I did bring from my grandparents’ house I acknowledged the origin and then I asked whether I really needed them and whether they sparked joy. Keeping something that I didn’t want or need simply because it came from there would only have caused me to feel guilty for not liking it or not using it.
Sentimental items will always be difficult so as Marie Kondo recommends definitely become a pro at decluttering other less weighty items first and then tackle them last.