In my experience, minimalists get a reputation as a bit heartless when it comes to sentimental items. We seem unemotional and easily detached from stuff.
But what if minimalism is the best tribute to a memory or person?
What if holding that item one last time cements the memory forever?
After my dad died, I walked through his one-bedroom apartment with my eight siblings. In his cupboard, I found the coffee mug I bought for him in Jamaica when I got married. I was touched he still had it, so I kept it.
When I flew back home and used the mug, I noticed a crack in the handle.
I frantically fixed it–feeling like his memory and love were somehow contained in that mug. Coffee was a love we shared.
A year later when I could no longer use it or repair it, I held it one last time and threw it away.
I initially kept it because I felt so loved he had kept it.
Holding it the last time cemented in my mind that love and that memory. Throwing the mug away freed me from the pressure to preserve a physical object that could never replace him.
By letting go we can honor those who have left us. We can reflect, cry, laugh, feel.
Sometimes when we cling to stuff we trap the memories within the items. But when we release the items we set the memories free.
So if you struggle to let go of sentimental items, I encourage you to hold that item one last time and then set the memories free.