Individuals with Lived Experience

Tips for Sentimental Items

These strategies will help you honour the memories associated with your possessions, rather than keeping all the possessions. This information also provides strategies for other ways to create comfort in your life

General Tips

  • Take a picture to remember the item.
  • Write down the memory of the item and keep it in a personal journal or album that could be shared with friends [Walsh, 2004]
  • Pick the best items from a collection. Allow these few to represent all the others.
  • Cut off small pieces of fabric from clothes or other textiles and display them in a frame, perhaps with a picture of the original item being used or worn [Walsh, 2004].
  • Create a memory quilt from squares of important clothes [Walsh, 2004].
  • Share your memories with friends and family. Telling the stories that are associated with items can keep the tales alive, without needing to keep the item.

Letting Go of Items with Ceremony

Gratefully acknowledge the place the item has held in your life. Plan a way to let it go that you feel will honour the item and its memories.

  • Say a prayer, or words that are meaningful to you about the object. “Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” ~ Raymond Lindquist “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~Lao Tzu
  • Providing it’s practical and safe – bury it or burn it.
  • Describe what this item has meant to you and what you appreciate about it. Thank the item as you let it go.

Creating New Comforts in your Life

Sentimental possessions typically provide some type of emotional uplift or connection. Create a list of activities you could do that will offer the same safety and warmth – without needing to hang onto the object. Here are some examples:

  • Buy yourself flowers or water your plants
  • Call a friend you have not seen in a while
  • Take yourself out for coffee or tea
  • Enjoy the scenery from your balcony for 15 minutes
  • Make a sketch or painting of something that catches your eye
  • Bake something: bread, muffins, a loaf
  • Go for a walk, do some stretching, or take a yoga class
  • Ask someone for a hug, or get cozy with a blanket and a book or movie