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Sorting Sentimental Clutter

Sorting Sentimental Clutter
While making decisions about what to keep and what to toss is never easy, it can be especially complicated when you have an emotional attachment to the objects. The challenge is to work with the emotion of the process rather than letting it work against you, especially when clearing after the death of a relative or friend. In Feng Shui, clutter represents "postponed decisions" and the "inability to move forward," so sorting through sentimental items can be an important part of moving through the grieving process. Here are seven steps to help you sort and make decisions about your sentimental clutter. These tips come from Marjorie Ingall writing for Real Simple magazine.
Box It Up. If you're grieving because of a death, downsizing, or in an empty-nest, put things you can't decide about in boxes labeled "Questions," hide them away somewhere, then wait six months before sorting through them. Toss any obvious junk and donate items without any sentimental attachment.

Get Help. It's acceptable to admit you need help from a professional organizer or Feng Shui practitioner to decide what to keep, where to keep it, as well as how to get rid of the rest. Sometimes it's good to have another person in the room for company, especially if you're clearing after the death of a loved one.

Work in Short Intervals. Limit your clearing sessions to several hours rather than one day-long blitz. A fresh, rested mind will help you make smart decisions and avoid "purger's regret." You can find a step-by-step clutter clearing process in the "Clutter Clinic" chapter of the Feng Shui Quick Guide For Home and Office.

Take Photos. Take digital images of sentimental things, both to save space and to minimize risk of fading or loss. You can make keepsake books at many online sites to preserve memories, which is especially important for children's artwork.

Save the Best/Toss the Rest. When you have a bulk collection, like every greeting card your mother sent or every one of your child's art projects, try "keeping one to represent many." Pick a favorite and toss the rest.

Give Things a New Home. It's easier to part with beloved objects if you can later see others using them. Ask your relatives and friends if they want your family heirloom items, but be careful when you distribute these. Often, one person's junk is, well, another person's junk.

Know Your ABC's. Your relationship to sentimental items will probably change over time. It's important to Always Be Clearing and accept that it's okay to give yourself permission to let go of things you once cherished. Periodically take a look at what you've kept and toss or donate anything that's become more of a burden than a positive memory.

© Copyright 2023, Carol Olmstead