"My wife died about 5 years ago now. I'm still having such a hard time going through her belongings. Every time I pick up one of her sweaters I just collapse with sadness and longing. Even her handwriting on a piece of scrap paper is sacred. I don't know how I can ever part with anything that belonged to her. It's all I have left."

My client Jim was obviously still grieving the loss of his wife. But now he was being buried in clutter. It had gotten to the point that he had to do something, but didn't know where to start.

He and I began an organizing journey that helped him weed through the chaos, and together we discovered some valuable lessons and tools that I want to share with you.

First of all, our possessions are symbols that remind us of parts of our lives. Sometimes these symbols hold an emotional charge that can be very powerful.

Jim had old trophies that reminded him of his son that was now grown and gone. He had stacks of travel brochures for the dream vacation that he and his wife were going to take...until she got diagnosed. Happy memories, broken dreams...all represented in these benign objects. Does this sound familiar?

He was concerned that if he let go of an object, it meant that he was trashing that part of his life. He was afraid that he would forget those memories or dishonor his wife in some way.

"Getting rid of my wife's sweater feels like I'm throwing away part of her and saying that I'm over it now...and I'm not!"

Holding on to memorabilia isn't a problem in and of itself. However, if there is too much, it can become a blockade to living in the present. The excess clutter can serve as insulation from dealing with pain and loneliness as well as
provide an excuse for not moving forward into the next chapter of life.

Before saying goodbye to these parts of your life, it's helpful to choose some meaningful destinations for the items. (Family members, friends, or a favorite charity.) It will help ensure that your items will be cherished by others who could really use them or love them.

It may also be comforting to have someone with you during this process.

Here are 3 simple tips:

1. Let go in stages.

Just as grief is done in layers, letting go of emotionally charged items can be done slowly over time. If you're not ready to get rid of something, just put it back and revisit it in a couple of months. As you go through the stages, you'll notice that the energy you have around certain objects will change.

2. Try a Mini Memorial.

A wise organizer friend of mine came up with this one. When you're in the process of purging, hold a little ceremony to honor the items and then release them.

·Recall the memory that the item symbolizes.
·Thank it for blessing your life and all that it represents.
·Release it to go and be a blessing to someone else or throw it away, knowing that it served its purpose.

3. Take a picture.

Some of my clients have determined that they are finished housing something but they want a little reminder. Take a photo and then let go of the item. The photo takes up much less space and is an economic way of visiting the memory.

Whether you're letting go of broken dreams or parts of your life that have ended, saying a clear goodbye will help complete the cycle.

Author's Bio: 

Belinda Lams of Soul Organizer is a Certified Professional Life Coach, Professional Organizer, and speaker. She is passionate about helping people live from clarity and purpose. Belinda is available for coaching services by phone and can be reached at bblams@gmail.com.