I am not the most sentimental person, practical, but not sentimental. I am however surrounded by some really sentimental people. I think my retail training background has greatly helped me understand what motivates other people and support them through their personal development and decision making process. Many people think that in all my experience that it's about what I want, or my vision. That couldn't be further from the truth. When merchandising it's all about what the Brand and customer demand and when supporting a client in organizing and merchandising their space it's about their vision and values. When you work with a professional on something even as personal as your sentimental possessions, don't worry, it's not about them wanting you to get rid of it all, but helping you.
I love the quote "if everything is important, then nothing is." This can be a helpful motto when you think of possibly pairing down mementos and memories that are boxed away. If you keep it all how can you honour what is truly part of you. If you keep every stuffed animal, how does that make that one special one significant? If you keep every piece of art your children have ever brought home, how does the one that made your truly made your heart swell with pride stand out?
This is a moment where pulling it all into one space and taking each one into careful consideration comes into play. Don't skip this step, or perform it mentally. Over thinking it before going in can taint your feelings and not leave you open to how you will truly feel when seeing it all in one place. It can be tricky to gather it all if you haven't gone through your tidying journey in the order that Marie Kondo outlines in her book the life changing magic tidying up. When you tidy using the KonMari Method™ you leave the sentimental items until the very end. If you come across something sentimental when you are working though your closet, you put it on the side. If you come across something when working through your papers, it goes on the side. If you find something in your kitchen, it goes on the side. You get the idea. Gather it all together to deal with at the end, and be sure to then separate into sub categories to make it even easier. The benefit of this is that you will be stronger in your vision of your space and your decision making skills with have been honed while going through all your other belongings up until this point.
As much as I am a big advocate, and certified in the KonMari Method™, I also have a great appreciation of the recent trend of Swedish Death Cleaning. Sounds morbid, I know, but highly practical. The idea behind Swedish Death Cleaning is to remove unnecessary things and get your home in order as you get older. You want to minimize the amount of stuff that you end up leaving behind for others to deal with. If you have lost a loved one and had to go through all their belongings you know how truly difficult it can be. I have seen how that pain can be amplified when the amount left behind is mostly clutter and items that no one needs. It becomes a mental and even financial burden for your loved ones to sort out. If you pair down your sentimental items to ones that truly resonate with you and speak to your past, present and future, your family and future generations will be more likely to feel the same way and treasure them.
Getting rid of grandma's treasured doll collection or grandpa's train sets can spark anything but joy when you are faced with dealing with it. I try to think of how that loved one would want us to feel. Would they want you to be burdened with boxes and boxes of their possessions? Tucked in a musty storage space and not seeing the light of day? Moving them from one home to another and still never enjoying them to anywhere near the extent that they once were. Would it not be better to have them loved and enjoyed by some one? I think so, but then again it's not up to me, I'm just here to help. Think about it, but know that now is not the time to worry about that category in your space.
You can go the Japanese route and follow the KonMari Method™. You can go the Swedish route and give Death Cleaning a try. Or you can go the ancient Egyptian route and build a pyramid sized space to be take it all with you, just kidding. Although I do know a few people who would love this option if it were possible! My best advice is to start at the beginning, work your way up to it and by the time it comes to dealing with them you will be surprised. Items that were once hidden in boxes will be dusted off and lovingly displayed. Others will be re-homed and loved anew. Love letters from the past will bring new tears and yearbook photos will bring tears of laughter, but it's all good. And bottom line, it's entirely up to you, I'm just here to help.