How to let go of Grandpa’s table – the decluttering challenge of family heirlooms.

It’s sitting in your garage or attic or maybe it’s in your dining room right now and it won’t fit into the new house (or the new design for this house). But it’s not so easy as just picking up the phone and calling “got junk” to haul it away. You see, it was Grandpa’s table.

This can apply to any number of things; photos, crystal vases, silver-plated silverware, hand crocheted afghans (I’m just mentioning the stuff in my garage). They’re things you know you won’t use…ever. But how can you get them go without dishonoring your family member’s memory (and ticking off the rest of the family)? Here are the steps for letting go.

First, deal with the living, i.e. your family. Send out an email or text to all the local relatives and see if anyone wants this item. Let me them know you are going to be letting this item go if no one else wants it. Let them know there’s a deadline to respond. You may give them until the end of the month or a few weeks.

If they say they can’t take the item AND it must stay in the family then you let them know, gently, that if they can’t take the item and they don’t have an alternative place for the item it will be leaving the family.

Second, take some time to show your respect for the ancestors and this item. I’ve had many a conversation with relatives who’ve passed on. Take a moment while sitting near the item. Think of a happy memory of the person who owned this item. This memory may involve the item also but it doesn’t have to. Thank this person for the gift of this item and let them know that you no longer need it.

Third, take a picture of the item. We often keep items we don’t need because of the memories they invoke. But pictures can bring back those memories also. So take and store (either by printing or digitally) a good picture of the item.

Now you’re ready to release the item. You will find your conscience is clear. The item finds a new life with someone else. And you’ve successfully decluttered a little bit more.

About Donna Stellhorn

Donna Stellhorn helps people read the map of their future, gain deep insight into who they are and helps them create personal spaces that support their goals.
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