What were the hardest items for you to purge?

claire_de_lunaMay 9, 2007

I'm going through a complete downsizing in three bedrooms, and am really thinking about what's going back. I've had some of these items since I was first married, and others from the time we moved into our home. A wardrobe went from the bedroom to be re-purposed into another part of my house. That was tough, but when I mentioned to my husband that I didn't think that huge piece was well utilized, he completely agreed. Letting it go allowed light and space that we love into the room. A recliner in my office that no one used much except my Dad (he's gone now) has gone to the garage for a sale, and a smaller chair with better scale is in its place. There's breathing room now. Those ''sentimental'' cards I'd saved (and never looked at) went in the trash except for a very few. Those were a little harder to toss than I thought they should be, but I haven't missed them at all. Some of those relationships have changed, which I certainly don't need to be reminded of. I am enjoying having new space! This started out being tough, but I'm getting on a roll which has me feeling great about simpler rooms with cleaner lines. They'll never be spare, but the affect of my goal of No Surface Clutter is having a wonderful effect on my psyche. At the same time, the things that are going back are only items that I use which are being reorganized into a much more efficient manner.

What's the toughest thing for you to have let go that you don't even miss?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, claire de luna. Glad you are feeling good about your decisions to let certain things go. It really is like a breath of fresh air to have open space in rooms, isn't it?

I've actually been going through a purging process for a number of years at this point. It started when my parents sold the house my father had built and in which they had lived for over 35 years. Fortunately, they had gone through a serious clearing process before that, but they were moving miles away and were unable to take much as far as furniture and "stuff". At that time, I was ending a long-term relationship and moving out onto my own and I felt the need to hold onto a lot of these family things. It was reassuring at a difficult time. After a while, I eventually let most of it go. A few years later, my husband lost his mother and we had to clear out her home which was filled with an overwhelming amount of stuff. He found himself needing to hold onto family things at a time when he was feeling a huge loss. So, we brought many things home. Over the last six years, he has parted with the majority of it. My husband and I still have things we don't use but continue to sort through and part with items as it becomes time to let them go. I've found that we've both held onto things because of the fear that we'll lose the memories triggered by seeing the object. We've learned to trust that love and memories live on in our hearts and in the hearts of family and friends.

Anyway, one of the hardest thing for me to part with was some of the old pieces of porcelain and china that belonged to my grandmother. I always looked at them in her dining room cabinet when I went to her home as a child. When she moved out of her home, these were a few of the things that my mother and I kept. Over time, I realized I never used these items, and I preferred to have my own things on display. Some pieces I took to a consignment shop and sold. Other larger, more valuable pieces I gave away to members of my family. While the process of parting with these things was tough, I have found that I don't miss them one bit. What I really appreciate, is the ability to reach into my jelly cupboard and sideboard and easily find the things I use and love.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 2:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I've found that we've both held onto things because of the fear that we'll lose the memories triggered by seeing the object. We've learned to trust that love and memories live on in our hearts and in the hearts of family and friends.

Anyway, one of the hardest thing for me to part with was some of the old pieces of porcelain and china that belonged to my grandmother. I always looked at them in her dining room cabinet when I went to her home as a child. When she moved out of her home, these were a few of the things that my mother and I kept."

These are the types of issues I struggle with the most. Giving up things that my parents and grandmother (all deceased) used, had, liked, valued ... I'm working on this, but I'm not to the point yet where I can give them up. It's just a few boxes out in the garage so these things aren't causing problems in the house, but they do take up too much space in my psyche.

I'm hopeful that I'll be able to give up most of them this year. I'm really trying to work through this situation. If I can't give up some of them, then I need to display them or take care of them better. I don't want to have things just stored out in the garage.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 8:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

After my dad died and my mom moved into a nursing home, we had to split up and sell the only home my sisters and I had ever lived in. I brought some memory items back to my apartment with me. This was in 1989.

Within one year, my apartment was burglarized and most of those memory items were stolen or destroyed.

I really struggled with my feelings of anger, loss of roots, lack of trust, loss of the things themselves.

Once I was able to work through all that, and to this day, there is no item that is hard for me to part with. I know it's just stuff. The burglars, through all that they did, didn't do a thing to my memories. That burglary taught me that memories are the most valuable thing I had ... I still have them and they are all intact. Coincidentally, in 2001 my then house was burglarized, too. Stuff was taken, DH and I replaced it. That's just what it was ....stuff.

I don't wish burglaries on anyone, but I sure did alot of learning through both of ours.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 10:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

patser, your story reminded me of my aunt who lost almost all of her belongings in a condo fire. This was about 10 years ago, when she was sewing my wedding dress, and she called to tell me it had been lost in the fire.

I drove up to see her, about 100 miles away, and spent the day taking photos for her insurance agent. Fortunately no one was injured seriously but suddenly all of her possessions were gone.

The only family photos left are the ones she'd sent to me a few months earlier, in an album.

Much later, after they'd moved to another place and had started rebuilding their lives, she said the fire had given her freedom, that she no longer cared about things (and this was a woman who had money and liked to spend it!) because she knew they could be gone in an instant.

She did miss having the photos, and some old letters, but that was about all.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 11:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One of the last things I purged was personal letters, cards and photos. I remember in the Bridges of Madison County where the kids had a hard time dealing with the information in the mom's diary. I'm not a diary keeper, but I did have letters from ex's., photos from my younger partying days that I really wouldn't want people to be looking at. So, they're gone. I just asked myself if I died tomorrow would I want someone to see/read/keep this? If not, it went in the trash.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 12:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Tina, I can relate to the purging process taking a number of years, along with needing the comfort of family items for a while. It's interesting though that when the excess of my parents estate sale rolled around, there was actually very little I wanted to take home with me. You said it well when you talk about fear of losing the memories triggered by the object. Minet, I've found that taking a picture of the object will trigger the memory as much as keeping it will! I do have about three items that were my grandmother's, which I use and absolutely love. One is a string of bells that I tied to the light switch in my home office. Those bells ring daily and I think of her often. Another is an antique cake tin which reminds me we both had a fondness for baking, and a red bowl that always held her home-made coleslaw.

Patser, it's all ''just stuff'' is so true. Whether it's stolen, destroyed or we simply outgrow it, stuff can be easily replaced. Memories we'll keep. Minet, I like your aunt's story about the fire having given her freedom. There have been several times in my life I've left my ''stuff'' to go live a minimal lifestyle and have been amazed at how little I truly need or actually miss. There is true freedom in that. My mom literally made herself sick when she downsized from a large home into an apartment because of what she thought she was ''losing''. I don't think she'd ever gotten rid of a thing and didn't have any experience at it. She had some beautiful things, some of which she'd never used. None of us wanted them because there weren't any memories associated with them.

Gloria, good point! For that reason alone, I can't bring myself to keep a diary. (Well, I did keep a remodeling journal but that was more to vent than anything.) It does make you stop and think about not wanting anyone else to have to deal with items that are so personal or intimate.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 3:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well-hidden items! LOL!

Our home looks neat and tidy -- but just wait until a closet or drawer is opened!

So our "stuff" is indeed put away -- and sometimes it is SO hard to open that door or drawer -- and cause so much chaos.

Love the end result so I really force myself to keep saying "just think of all of that lovely space!" LOL!

Loved all of the stories! :)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 11:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This was such a great thread and I enjoyed all your introspections. I haven't contributed here before, but recognize names from other forums. Felt I got to know some of you a bit just by revealing yourselves in this way. Thank you.

Some of you talked about the difficulty in purging because these THINGS are memories. Sometimes I want the memories to come alive, to have them back for a minute or so. "But just wait until a closet or drawer is opened...so our 'stuff' is indeed put away" -- You know what I do, Teacats, when I want that memory again for a moment? I open the book of Robert Service's poems to read the letters from my brother, or open the little music box on my mantle to read in his own handwriting the words (that I know by heart anyway) to a song my father wrote, or I put my mother's too-big-for-me ring on my index finger so I can keep her touch near me for the day.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 1:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The hardest items for me to purge are memorabilia. I still have more than I probably should, but I try to sit down and go through it once every year or so... and every year it gets a tiny bit smaller.

An idea for old china... my great-great grandmother's china was really too fragile to use and there were too many great grandkids who wanted it to decide who should get it. So anyone of the grandkids or great-grandkids who wanted it was given a single plate or saucer framed in a shadow box. It's a lovely item to hang on the wall where it can be enjoyed and it's not taking up space in the cabinet. I'm not sure what was done with the leftover pieces or if there were any.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 10:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had a hard time with that too, especially when I found a plastic baggie of some of my hair my mom had saved from when I was four! I decided I really didn't need it for a color match....hmmmmm...or anything else for that matter. It was her sentiment, not mine and it felt okay to say buh-bye.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 5:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Papers,photos,etc. are hard for me. When Grandma died in 1961, my mother found a box of old photographs from the early 1900's. She didn't recognize any of the faces, but knew they must be relatives. Mom is now 83. I'm the oldest daughter and will inherit that box of photographs.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 3:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been away for awhile but I just logged on because I am facing a concrete wall of resistance and this thread is exactly "it." I already struggled with the memorbilia (save one dish, one book in a set, etc.) and life is good that way. What I can't part with today is so silly but here I am writing this silly thing down.

Every day I trip on a pair of sweats I bought in 1980 for 90% off, one of those "finds" in a basket on the floor in July that the store just wanted to get rid of. Double ply cashmere in a color I never wear. But I wore those sweats at home every single winter for 20 years, writing at my gerry-rigged messy desk. Soft, cozy, associated with my best work, now holey, stained, and too heavy for post-menopausal me. Why have I needed them to be on my closet floor for the last five years I cannot say. So many times I put them with other giveaways and then take them back.

Using the "save a small sample" principle, what could I do with a piece other than keep a square of it in my jewelry box? Maybe when I push "post" I'll grit my teeth and put them in the garbage.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 3:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

could you take a small piece and turn it into a sachet? Or a square to keep earrings in when you travel (hem the edges, and then slip the earrings through the fabric and fasten; keeps them from getting knocked around and lost)?

or a jewelry roll, or a small pouch? Either w/ a zipper or w/ a ribbon tie?

Down by the calf, there's probably enough to do something like that.
There may not be enough to make two shoe bags, but there *could* be, depending how much theyv'e shrunk.

if you don't have a sewing machine to use to hem it for a use like that, we'll have to have lunch, bcs I do (I even have some silk cord from Mokuba, if you want a pouch)!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nice ideas Talley Sue. You always have something original to contribute to these threads. I don't know what Mokuba is?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 4:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

elizabeth, some other things to consider might be a comfort pillow for your chair or backing a piece of foamboard with the fabric to make a bulletin board for your desk. I'm trying to keep in the spirit of working at home, since you have memories of your best work attached to the clothes. I agree that Talley Sue always has good ideas as well!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 7:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I found an old (personalized) phone book from when I was first married. It has old (old) friends in it I haven't been in contact with for years. I'm having trouble throwing it out because of its history of the people that have been in my life. Someone...help!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 10:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mokuba is one of the ribbon & trimming sources we use here at our magazine; it's in the fabric district. They have gorgeous, upscale stuff. I guess I did just sort of name-drop, didn't I? People who do some sewing in NYC , or reading of credits in magazines, might be familiar--I forgot that most people don't have my frame of reference.

Claire, I might keep that address book--I have a file of "mementos" for stuff like that. (and you might see if you can drop those folks a Christmas card, in July, of course, when all Christmas cards are supposed to be sent--aren't they?) I find that sometimes I do need a list like that to jog my memory,a nd while those memories of the 4H Youth Leadership group I was in aren't *crucial,* they provide a nice piece of texture, and when I run across it now and then, I'm glad I have it. Even though I had no need to get in touch w/ those folks now, the memory would very probably be lost without the reminder.

Go through it now and write some notes in the margin to jog your memory a bout them when youf lip through it six years from now when you go through that file/box again.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Talley Sue, that really helps. I kept thinking I should just let it go, but I bought a fairly nice address book (for me at the time) and reused it for 20 years so it has a very long history. I replaced it about 5 years ago after I found a leather-bound book and put my most current references in that. The one I use most however is on my computer, and always the list I update as soon as information comes in. I've printed this one out several times to keep in my car, which has come in handy more than once. Letting go of that old book even though I don't reference it much anymore...well, I'm just not ready!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 11:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't think we have to get rid of *everything* we don't use on a regular basis. If it's something small, like an address book, and gives you pleasure in looking through the old names and bringing up memories - keep it!

I'd like to get a cedar chest like my mother had and use it as a memento box. It would limit the amount of things I stored and would preserve them all in one place. I think it would be a pleasure, maybe bittersweet, to go through the cedar chest once or twice a year, or with kids or grandkids.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 12:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree: keep the address book.

Okay, so I looked at the sweat pants again. The drawstring is in good condition. I could just make a bag from waist to crotch and gather it. Now that is such a good idea I might do it. On the other hand, I looked at these pants I was so attached to with new eyes after I wrote the post. They are really worn beyond belief -- maybe I can separate from them if I don't get caught up in all the wonderful ideas here.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 7:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh I think a bag is a great idea! You could stuff it and use it for a pillow in a pinch. Go for it, and you can tell us how well it all worked out!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 9:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Okay -- the blue sweat pants are GONE. I saved the drawstring. I have no idea what I'll do with it but it doesn't take up much room in my drawer. Whew. I feel good.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 10:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow Elizabeth, That's BIG! Congratulations! It's great to feel good...

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 11:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

fresh eyes--that's one of the best things this forum gives me.

congrats, Elizabeth10029! one less thing. Room for a NEW pair of pants to keep you company as you work.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 9:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

two boxes of doll making supplies. I've never made dolls. They came from my grandmother's house after the died. She made dolls all year then donated them at Christmas. She made many for me over the years, too. I hung on to those boxes for 10 years in the back of a closet. I don't know what I thought I'd do with them, but I didn't want it all wasted. Ironically, for all my holding on to them, that is exactly what they were in the back of my closet, wasted. I even moved them state-to-state twice. Last move, I let them go. Just put them in a yard sale and they sold, cheap. I just had to not look and trust that they would be well used for well loved dolls. I feel better now not having them then I did knowing I just had them collecting dust in the closet.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You know Stephanie, someone was probably thrilled to find those supplies and I really believe they are being put to good use. My ds wanted a calligraphy pen, but I didn't see any at Walmart. Stopped in at a local thrift store and found a brand new Parker set with four tips and all new ink. $2.99. For the past two days, we've had one thrilled kid around here writing everyone's names and practicing. I'm so glad that someone knew they wouldn't use the set and donated that item.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stamps. Used postage stamps that is.

I just cannot bring myself to toss the whole envelope in
the garbage. I MUST tear the stamps off and keep them, until I find someone who collects them, as I don't collect stamps (I did as a kid and my dad did too - and my sister and my brother - none of us does anymore).

So far I have posted on the paper crafts forum here and send some to a few ladies who emailed me, send a lot to Ginger (apoem) who used to post here for her DH and her best friend, and lately to a guy in Canada who posted a request at Freecycle, Athens.

It's a good thing we don't receive as much personal snail mail as we did (no, it's not good, just stamp-clutter-wise...) and that stamps take just a tiny bit of space.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 2:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Probably my worst area is kitchen stuff. I have an angel-food cake pan that I haven't used in at least 15 years. But if I ever want to make one, I'll have the pan!! Right now I have plenty of room for this stuff, and none of my kitchen cabinets are crowded. But there are some things I still want to buy. When the remaining cabinets are in place, and all the "good" dishes are unpacked, I may rethink keeping some of this stuff. Those cabinets will be across the room from the working side of my kitchen. It's quite possible that some of the stuff I don't use will fit there.

Oh boy, that brings up another category. My MIL had a lot of party-sized crystal and silver serving pieces. About the only one I've ever used is the crystal punch bowl, filled with ornaments for a Christmas decoration. I will probably use some of the others, maybe one or two at a time, never all at once. But the new cupboards will make these things accessible, whereas in the old house I needed a stepladder to get to them. I guess I'll just wait and see on these. I don't think DH would mind if I got rid of these, and it's quite possible some of the family might want some of them. The weird thing is, they're really not my style, being rather fussy and ornate, while I prefer cleaner lines.

And I have to admit that I have a lot more spare bedding for the guest beds than I'll ever use, all inherited from MIL. This is all in 2 large cardboard boxes in the guest room closet. I will get rid of most of that this summer. It's more an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue.

And to think that when I started reading this thread I honestly thought I didn't have any difficult areas. (embarrassed look)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 6:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It's difficult for me to part with baby clothes, my youngest is 9 years old, I still cannot give away those precious baby things. It is all about holding onto memories of my dear children when they were infants and toddlers. All the while these clothes clutter my house and could serve another, needy family so well. I have to admit that I don't have such sentimental feelings for my teenager's clothing!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 9:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am a purger at heart, so tossing is not a big deal to me.

HOWEVER, I had a hard time letting go of some household items from my grandma after she died (vases, cake stand, tea towels, etc). These things were not valuable...but...get ready for this....they were saved for me and given to me by my relatives who felt I would have wanted these things.

***TRUTH: I did not connect with these items, think they were nice, or wanted to display/keep them.***

I hung on to them for years, and my issues were not with tossing because grandma would be upset. I didn't want to upset the living relatives who hand-picked these for me before the estate sale.

***TRUTH: I mentioned to my mom once about the items (she was one of the culprits who forwarded the stuff to me), and she completely forgot what she gave to me...and even forgot she gave me anything at all!!!****

I also know that if my mom forgot, the other relatives would definitely not remember.

I told my mom I got rid of those things and it didn't even phase her. I learned that those items didn't really mean anything to them either...it was just their way of healing and dealing in the moment of loss and trying to move forward.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 7:49PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
under sink organization (kitchen)
Had to share this photo. It is perfect use of the dead...
Where to donate a 15yo nebulizer
Years ago, when my now-17-y-o was a little one, he...
Can I get rid of my wedding gown?
Hi everyone. We went to spend the weekend with my parents...
Missing the Garden Web Already
I feel betrayed by the sale of the Garden Web to Houzz....
I am donating like a madwoman!
In 2006, we put our home on the market, and to get...
Sponsored Products
48" Emzen Teak Double Vessel Sink Console Vanity
Signature Hardware
ELK Lighting Buckingham Mini Pendant - 9.5W in. Matte Black - 251-BK
$126.00 | Hayneedle
Safavieh Lyndhurst Floral Motif Greyish Blue/ Ivory Rug (7' Round)
Filament Design Path & Landscape Lights Centennial 1-Light Outdoor LED Chrome
Home Depot
Denim Classic Cable Decorative Pillow
$25.95 | Bellacor
Safavieh Handmade Kerman Olive/ Rust Wool Runner (2'3 x 20')
Hughes Leather Chaise - Brighton Sunset Orange
Joybird Furniture
Leila Gold Designer Linen Shade Plug-In Swag Chandelier
Lamps Plus
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™