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Dealing With Sentimental Attachments & Feelings of Guilt When Decluttering

Do you find it hard to let go of sentimental items when you are trying to declutter? And when you do, are you left with a feeling of guilt? Trust me when I say, this is all very normal.

Understanding why some items stir up emotions and how to declutter them differently are keys to getting rid of emotionally-loaded clutter. Keep what you want and honor the memory of the rest.


Why do people hold onto sentimental objects?

Some people feel like they need to keep these items to remember the past. Others may feel like they need to hold on to sentimental items to cherish memories of lost loved ones. Though that memory remains, the thought of getting rid of the physical item seems impossible. However, that sentimental clutter can end up hurting you in other ways. It can keep you from moving forward, it can add stress, and it can take up valuable space in your home.

Another point to note about sentimental items is to ask yourself, "Who am I keeping this item for?" Sometimes we hold onto things that we believe someone in our family will want in the future. That isn't always the case. It's important to have honest conversations about these types of items because we would never want to burden another person with stuff that they don't want. Every person views and values his or her own things in their own way. Just because something is meaningful to you doesn't mean it will hold the same value or importance to another person.


Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you begin this emotional process of decluttering your sentimental items ask yourself these important questions. It will help you make decisions you won't regret.

  • Do I have room for it?

  • Should it be preserved for future family members?

  • Is there someone else who would appreciate it? Is this sentimental item useful to someone else?

  • How do I feel when I think about getting rid of it?

  • What is it costing me to hold on to it? Time, space, emotional toll?

  • Why am I keeping it?


Tips that can help when deciding to keep or part ways with your sentimental items.

  1. It comes down to a common goal. What is the goal that both you and your spouse/partner/family have together? Is it to create a more usable, functional space in your home? To create some space for growth as your family's needs change? Determine what that goal is and keep that in mind as you work to part with things.

  2. Take Baby Steps. Start small and build momentum. Start with something you've been wanting to get rid of for a while. Continue by picking something each week that you can let go of. I usually suggest saving sentimental clutter for last. Try decluttering other areas of your home that you're not as emotionally attached to like kitchen items or your pantry.

  3. Put items that you should let go of "on vacation". Bin them up and put them away for a specific period of time. If no one notices them missing or uses them by your due date, then the items need to go. (works well with kids' toys too!)

  4. If it was a gift. Remember the purpose of a is to make the receiver feel good. If the "gift" is not serving this purpose it is time to let it go.

  5. The "just in case" mentality comes with a cost. It costs you time and space. Time looking for that specific item and space that could be freed up for proper storage and the things you do use regularly.

  6. Snap a photo. As you declutter, you might stumble upon some stuff that you don’t really need to keep – but can’t stand the thought of saying goodbye to entirely. One simple solution? Take a picture! By keeping a picture of that sentimental item, you can revisit it – and all the memories it holds.

  7. Ask for help from someone who is more objective about the items. Whether a friend or another family member, choose someone who will provide a bit of balance when making these decisions.


In Closing:

As you embark on this journey to declutter your sentimental items, remember to hold onto items that are close to your heart and let the rest go. You are creating breathing room in your current life and recognizing that what is most important is happening right now. The feeling of freedom as you let go will be well worth the work. 🦋


Want more tips on home organizing?

You can follow A Meaningful Space on Instagram and Facebook for more photos and ideas for home organizing tips, before and afters, and other organizing fun. If you are struggling with routines, time management, or clutter in your home, reach out to me at to see how I can help you!

Thanks for following along on our journey as we declutter and organize!



& The A Meaningful Space Team



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