Inheriting Clutter

box of old things
Whether a loved one passes, two families merge, or a family member downsizes to a smaller home, stuff is passed down to you disguised as a good thing. We get our grandmother’s dishes, our uncle’s coin collection, pieces of furniture that are less than functional, and the list goes on. Soon this “inheritance” is more of a nuisance than a blessing and we’ve been “dumped on”.

Of course, our family members had good intentions and thought we’d enjoy the stuff they treasured, so with these things comes the guilt if we get rid of any of it. How could we let go of the things they thought to leave us or pass down to keep in the family?

Well, the real answer is yes, you can. You can let some of it go. If you find yourself with a full basement, jam-packed garage or extra storage unit full of a family member’s things, consider the following thoughts and questions.

  1. What are you giving up by storing these items?
  2. What is it costing you to keep these things? Financially? Emotionally? Square footage?
  3. How much energy will you need to spend going through all the stuff?
  4. How will your existing home or space change by keeping your inheritance?
  5. How does this stuff make you feel? Guilty? Sad? Resentful? Bitter? Overwhelmed?
  6. What’s the worst that will happen if you let some of it go?

Consider a compromise. Keep the items and things are you really love and find interesting. Don’t keep anything out of guilt. Be realistic with what you keep. If it’s not going to fit in your space or home, let it go. It’s better to be used and appreciated by someone else instead of collecting dust in storage.

Time will solve things that you’re on the fence about. Letting time pass makes it easier to give things up and sometimes we need to wait for time to pass.

On the reverse side of things, consider what you’re leaving behind for others. What will you pass onto them? Will they appreciate sorting through all your collections and things? That day may feel far off but consider breaking the cycle.


Photo © Vasilisa Zabavnova / Depositphotos

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