Today I was working with a client in her condo. Her mom passed away a few years ago. She used to share the place with my client. The place was jam packed with stuff. There was very little floor space. Things were piled up on things. I asked her about them. It turns out half the stuff was her mom's.
I decided to start in the living room. There were two book cases that were filled with hundreds of paperback murder mysteries that once belonged to her mom. My client said that she wanted to keep them. I asked if she reads them. She was silent. Then she said no. She said that she listens to books on tape while on the train to and from work. She looked at the books and was frustrated.
I said, "It's natural when a parent dies that we want to hang onto their things. It has their presence. They put their attention on it for many years. It's as if a person's scent is in their things. Though they are gone, it feels like they are there. It would be okay if those things were a part of our lives, but often they aren't and they clog up our living space. You don't read these books. But you miss your mom and a part of you feels if you let go of the books, you let go of your mom. But the reverse is true: if you let the books go, your attention goes from memories of your mom in some things, back to the memories of your mom in your heart, which is much more potent and vital."
She agreed to go through the books with me. 90% of them went into the donation pile. She picked ones for herself that she wanted to read. We continued through other areas of her place with that same objective.