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Our stuff can trigger painful memories

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My youngest daughter got married last week. Since she loves to cook (I do not), I decided that the perfect wedding present for her would be to create her own recipe box filled with our family recipes that she could take with her. That way she would be taking good memories of home and the many times we cooked those items together throughout her life too.

While I was going through the recipes and retyping them for her, I stumbled across this recipe that my brother printed out just before his death. As you can see, I wrote on the recipe that Mike printed this recipe just before his death and that I should save it forever! Upon seeing this, I was immediately engulfed in tears. All of the memories of his life, his battle with leukemia and his ultimate death from it at the young age of 39 came pouring in.

I was reminded of all of the pain and struggles he went through, as well as all of the pain and struggles I went through as a result of it. Mike lived with me for the last couple years of his life. And, although I was a perfect match for him as a bone marrow donor, the transplant didn’t work because his illness was too far along by the time we figured out he had leukemia. I have never been closer to anyone in my life that has died than my brother, Mike. So even 10 years later (he died June 10, 2002), it’s as if it happened yesterday.

I knew that I had to share this story because this is a perfect example of why people put off decluttering and getting organized. Because there are a lot of memories and feelings connected to our stuff. I wanted you to know that I understand that stuff can trigger these painful memories for all of us, but you can and will survive them. The results of ridding your life of stuff that you no longer need, use or love far outweigh any discomfort you may feel during the process.

(And no, I did not discard this recipe. More than likely, I never will. And that’s OK.)

Check out my book, The Truth About Clutter: Why Am I Holding on to This? for more in-depth insight into why we hold on to our stuff…and tips for letting go!

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