Helping Our Things Move On

Here's a really interesting clutter busting situation that one of my blog readers wrote to me about:

"I am probably one of the most clutter-free people I know. My husband and I live full-time in our 300 square foot motorhome, and own very few items. Paring down from a sticks-and-bricks home to our mobile nest was easy for me.

I have, however, two boxes of items that I've been lugging around for years. Literally, over 30 years. My old stuffed animals. They are worn out, having been my constant companions in childhood. I infused them with so much life; they were my friends and I loved them. But they are too old to give to another child, and yet throwing them in the garbage seems like an ignoble end for things that gave me such comfort and pleasure as a child.

I fear the deterioration of these old friends so much that I have not opened the boxes since I sealed them decades ago. The thought of the toys being reduced to dust is painful. Even if I opened the box to find them exactly as they were when I sealed them, I would not display them in my home. But having them go into the garbage just feels wrong! I've wished for an accidental fire to destroy the boxes so that I don't have to take responsibility for their demise. Can you suggest a way to find a final end for these old toys that feels respectful of their place in my memory? It's almost like they need a funeral...I am ready to let them go, but go where?"

Here's my response to her:

It's great that you are open to an alternative letting go for your old stuffed friends. They served you well when you were a kid and they are ready to go. You are doing a service by helping them leave. It shows them respect.

To keep them around in boxes for decades and mourning the loss of that special time in your life takes a heavy toll on you everyday. This pain you've been feeling has been you trying to hang on to the memories of past comforts and pleasures. But as hard as we try, we can't hang onto old feelings. We're not meant to. New feelings are coming into our hearts all the time. It helps to let go of the sacred shrines of selected past memories so we can have the space and awareness to enjoy the new moments.

There's a deep part of you that wants this resolution. That's why you wish your home would catch fire so you can finally put an end to this.

It sounds like you're ready to feel better and honor the service of the stuffed animals in a way that honors your heart. Here are some suggestions:

If you have an outdoor grill you can have a burial by fire. I've done that with some clients. We took the things that were once a big emotional part of their life, but were no longer serving them, and said goodbye by setting them on fire in a fire pit or on their grill. Fire is a great release. There's a powerful primal presence in burning things in the flames. You can even say your goodbyes as you do it.

You can also ask your husband to help you let them go. You can give him the boxes and ask him to let them go for you. You can ask him to not tell you how you did it. You can say goodbye to the stuffed animals in the box just before he takes them away. That's kind of what funeral homes are like. We ask someone else to help us let our loved ones go. It's okay to ask for help. It opens our hearts and that's essentially what you are looking for. You want your heart to feel better.

These might inspire you to think of some ways of your own. Either way, you owe it to your peace of mind to help this older part of your life to move on. It's been getting in the way of you truly enjoying your life now. You deserve to feel that peace.