5 Tips to Help You Deal with the Guilt of Discarding Sentimental Items

sentimental items

Like most people, you may have a few sentimental items you’ve been holding onto for years, even though you don’t really need or use them. Maybe it’s a piece of jewelry that belonged to your grandmother or a childhood toy you can’t bear to part with. Whatever the thing is, remember that it is only an object and not the actual memory or person to which you are tied to. Here are a few tips to help you deal with the guilt of discarding sentimental items:

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

The first step is to acknowledge your feelings about the item in question. Why do you feel guilty about getting rid of it? Is it because you’re afraid of forgetting the person or the memories linked with them? Or are you worried that someone else will throw it away and be gone forever? Once you identify the root of your guilt, you can start to work through it.

As anyone who has ever gone through a purge knows, guilt is an all-too-common emotion when getting rid of sentimental items. Whether it’s an old piece of clothing that no longer fits or a souvenir from a past relationship, letting go of something that holds meaning can be difficult. However, acknowledging your feelings is important in dealing with guilt. It’s okay to feel sad or nostalgic when you let go of something; in fact, it’s to be expected. Recognizing and accepting these feelings can help you move on from them.

Additionally, try to focus on the positive aspects of decluttering. Getting rid of an old piece of clothing, for example, may clear up room in your wardrobe, making it simpler to discover the clothes you actually wear. Or discarding a souvenir from a past relationship may help you to move on from that person and create space for new relationships in your life. Focusing on the benefits of decluttering can help you to let go of the guilt and make the process more positive overall.

2. Talk About Your Memories

If you’re worried about forgetting the memories associated with a particular item, sit down and write them out or talk to someone about them. By taking the time to recall and share your memories intentionally, they’ll be cemented in your mind far better than if they were just sitting in a box in your attic.

We all have memories that are special to us. Sometimes, these memories are attached to physical objects- a piece of jewelry that was a gift from a loved one, for example, or a book that holds particular significance. However, as we go through life, it’s often necessary to let go of some of these sentimental items. Perhaps we no longer have room for them, or we’re moving to a new house and can’t take everything with us. Getting rid of sentimental items may be tough because we may feel like we are losing a piece of our memories.

One way to help ease the process of discarding these items is to talk about the memories attached to them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of sorting through your belongings, take a few moments to sit down with a friend or family member and talk about why certain items are important to you. Sharing your memories can help you connect with them in a new way, and it may also help you realize that you don’t need the physical objects to keep the memories alive. In some cases, talking about your memories can be even more valuable than holding onto the things themselves. So next time you feel guilty about getting rid of something sentimental, take a moment to reflect on the happy memories attached- and then let it go.

3. Give Yourself Permission to Let Go

It’s important to remember that sentimental items are just things—they’re not actually the people or memories themselves. So if you’re struggling with letting go of something, permit yourself to do so. Chances are, you’ll feel much better once it’s gone.

It’s natural to feel guilty when discarding sentimental items. After all, these items often hold precious memories that we don’t want to forget. However, the guilt of holding onto these items can be worse than the guilt of discarding them. Clutter can cause stress and anxiety, and it can be difficult to maintain a tidy home when sentimental items take up space. In addition, sentimental items often become “dust collectors” that we never use or enjoy. Allow yourself to let rid of sentimental objects if you’re having trouble letting them go. For example, you could take a photo of the item before you donate it or give it away. This way, you’ll still have the memory without keeping the physical object. Alternatively, you could create a memory box for particularly special items. This way, you can still keep the items close at hand without them taking up space in your home. By permitting yourself to let go, you can help to reduce the guilt associated with discarding sentimental items.

4. Find a New Way to Honor the Memory

If there’s a particular person or memory that you’re struggling to let go of, find a new way to honor them. For example, if you have a piece of jewelry from your grandmother that you can’t bring yourself to get rid of, wear it often to feel close to her. Or if a toy from your childhood holds sentimental value, put it on display where you can see it every day.

5. Donate or Repurpose Sentimental Items

One way to help ease the guilt of discarding sentimental items is by donating them to someone who appreciates them or repurposing them into something new. For example, if you have a dresser full of clothes that belonged to your late mother, donate them to a local charity or consignment shop. Or, if you have a pile of old baby clothes in your attic, repurpose them into quilts or stuffed animals for future generations to enjoy.


Discarding sentimental items can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be painful. By following these five tips, you can let go of the guilt and move on with your life, knowing that those special memories will always be with you—even if the physical items aren’t.