HOW TO FREE YOURSELF OF MEMORY CLUTTER
* Realize that if you let go of an item, you do not let go of that person. People do not live on through material items.
* Hold on to items that only bring back positive memories, not painful ones.
* If there are items that encourage you to keep up a ritual based on grief, consider letting it go and focus on the positive instead.
* Make sure your space has a great representation of the past but also leaves room for you to celebrate the present and plan for the future.
* Keep the items that truly represent your loved one. To help, use this three-step process:
Step 1: Place all items in another area.
Step 2: If you’re looking to renovate a room, decide how you want to feel in that space.
Step 3: Sort everything into three categories: charity donations, keepsakes and items for a memory chest.
After almost six years, one family began the process of letting go of their young son. They begin with suitcases of his clothes and find a T-shirt that brings back painful memories of the end of his life. “Three years of our life was pain, and that’s like a memory of him. That’s still him,” his mother says.
“You have to separate the pain from the memory of your son,” organizational expert Peter Walsh says. Slowly, she lets go. “The thing is now this will be used by kids who need clothes. It will be put to great use by others who are less well off than you,” Peter says.
When deciding to keep certain things, that were part of the family routine, Peter wants to make sure this ritual is not unhealthy for the family. “The big focus in this is that stuff has power over you,” Peter says. “My concern [is] that often in touching things or looking at things they [are] connecting to the grief of the experience.”
Five hours later, the family finishes with four boxes of joyful memories.
When they described what they wanted in a home office, the family told Nate they wanted it to be functional but still honor their son’s memory.
Nate turned Jake’s old bedroom into a cheerful, organized office for the entire family. The new space is inviting. Calming blue walls, one of which is covered in cork with family photographs and mementos from the past, but room for the future picture perfect moments.
Nate and Peter pulled out all the stops for a memory chest using a beautiful armoire from “Remember when we gathered everything that you wanted to keep into the memory chest pile?” Peter says. “It’s important to understand that those things that you wanted to keep can be stored anywhere as long as they’re stored with honor and respect. And in the case of the room, the armoire’s the perfect place for that.”
On the other side of the room is a matching armoire to organize office supplies. “There are two cabinets, one’s past, one’s present and future,” Nate says.
The family loves the tribute and says they are glad the room is no longer a shrine. “It’s more of a healthy room….it’s not stuck in 2001. Now it’s 2007 and forward.”