How to deal with Sentimental Clutter

10-16-2018_How to deal with Sentimental

Photo by John Sekutowski on Unsplash


I recently was tagged on an image on a social media site. A friend was sharing a picture of a piece of paper that I had given her some thirteen-fourteen years ago. In beautiful calligraphy, it said how much her friendship means to me. Even though over the last thirteen-fourteen years we have not always kept in touch. Only occasionally checking-in on birthdays and significant life events but she had held on to this handwritten piece of papers for all these years, and I was touched by the gesture. But it got me thinking, that we are all hoarders in some way or the other. If you are anything like me, you probably struggle with decluttering when it comes to sentimental items.

I believe I was a born hoarder and the Craftster in me always thinks “I can use this is some craft project” or “I can totally DIY this.” But ever since I started moving around, I had to lighten my baggage so to say. So, over the years I have had to train myself to let go of things that seem precious because of the memories attached to them.


Why do we keep things?


We are all emotional people, some more than the others, but we all are emotional beings. So, it is natural that we hold on to stuff that holds some meaning to us. It may be that the items remind us of the people who are no longer in our lives, or maybe it reminds you of a simpler time. It perhaps reminds you of the person you use to be. We want to hold on those memories in tangible ways and soon we are surrounded by things which we look at once in decades maybe.


Why declutter?

Among many things, it’s important to make space for new things in life. Nothing good comes if you tie yourself to the past.




The struggle


Often, we hold on to things thinking they are important, or we may get some use out of them ‘someday’. It’s especially hard to get rid of something a loved one gave even though you have never used it and you will never use it. But getting rid of them somehow will mean you don’t value the person. I find it hard to let go of the things that were given by people who are no longer with us.


It’s important to realize that it is okay to feel this way. That’s the start to let them go.


How to declutter sentimental items?


I like to ask myself a few questions when I go through my yearly round of decluttering:

Did I use it/look for it in the last one year?

Does it serve any purpose now?

Am I using it to its maximum value/capacity?

Can someone else get more use out of it?

 Sometimes we may have a blind spot for the things that are around us which serve no purpose, and neither are they sentimental in the real sense. You can have someone help you with decluttering who will things practically and help you separate your true feeling from the objects.

In case of gifts from loved ones, it’s important to not equate the value of that relationship with the material gift. No one who truly loves you or cares for you would want you to feel burdened by the things they have given us especially if they no longer serve you any purpose.


Digitize what you can.

Paintings, greeting cards, letters, photographs all these can be digitized. Even other things like jewellery, more significant gifts, you can take a picture of them and store it in the cloud if they are things that hold some meaning to you.

But be careful of trading physical clutter with digital ones.


Give yourself grace:


Let's are honest, some things may not serve any purpose, but the memories are too important to let them go, or you may not be ready just yet to let them go. It is okay to allow yourself some space in your house for things that you want to keep. The amount of space you want to keep will depend on the amount of space you have and that you genuinely want to keep.  Like I said, we are emotional being and allowing ourselves that space is essential. The important thing is to be mindful about it.


When Not to Declutter:

It’s not the best time to declutter when emotions are running high, and you may not see things clearly.

Throwing away things that are of monetary or emotional value to you when you are upset is not the best thing. So, avoid decluttering when you are upset or feeling vulnerable or when you are morning the loss of a loved one. Decluttering can be emotionally taxing by itself, adding emotionally charged times of our life to the mix will not give you the best results. So, go easy on yourself.




These are some of the things I think of when it comes to sentimental clutter.  

What are the things that you do to deal with sentimental clutter? Leave me a comment below and let the conversation started.