When its time to say goodbye
Saying goodbye to anyone is hard. Saying goodbye to loved ones when they pass away is heart-breaking, an then having to deal with the aftermath of sorting out their things once the intial funeral organisation has been done can mean grieving all over again. Parting with their things is sometimes almost as hard as saying goodbye to them in the first place, except usually at this time onec the fuss has died down you’re left to deal with it yourself or with just a few close family members. Even if the person hasn’t passed away, maybe you’ve split up with a partner, it’s still an emotionally difficult time. It’s a grieving process, for that person, for happier times, and also for a future you now will never have. This means that you can find yourself attached to everyday objects that you would never have given a second thought before. So many items will remind you of that person, and some will have happy memories attached, others sad ones.
There’s no right time for sorting through a person’s things, sometimes it can be days and you will feel ready, sometimes it can be years. Sometimes practicalities will dictate that you need to get sorting things sooner than you would like, for example if a person was in a council house. If you have been given notice to vacate, timing is of the essence, but as a general rule everyone is different and it is totally OK to take things at your own pace and only deal with things when you’re ready. Pushing yourself to do things before you feel able to let items go can cause resentment and a bigger problem later on.
So when you are ready to let things go, how can you remove them as painlessly as possible? The main point is to get them away as quickly as possible. Don’t keep things hanging around waiting to sell them or the perfect opportunity to give them away. You may find it hard to physically be the person that hands them over – in which case see if a friend or relative can do this for you to soften the blow. Consider the services of a professional organiser too (If you're not local to South Yorkshire check out APDO to find someone local to you). Hiring a professional may seem like overkill but its useful to have someone that’s unemotionally attached, gently guiding you along, and keeping you focused and on track so you don’t go off on reminiscing down memory lane.
Another way to make it easier is by choosing charities close to your heart to send items to. This way you can feel that they’re been given to good use, and there’s a positive reward to giving the items away.
If it’s a relationship that has broken down you may find you overhaul your appearance. Many women (and men for that matter!) go get a new haircut and restyle, it may be that you get a make over, and new underwear too. Nothing says “I’m ready to face the world again” than a new outfit, a fab new haircut, makeover and nice undies to match. So what can you do with old toiletries, make up and underwear? Most charity shops won’t accept underwear, and to be honest if the bra is sad shade of grey, and the lipstick down to the bottom then charity shops may not be impressed and sadly the best place for these is in the bin! However, if your clothes have seen better days you can still give them to charity as usually most will sort them and can be sold on by weight as textiles - so you’re still helping out the charity. You can also take bags of textiles (odd socks, stained clothes etc!) to H&M as they also have a charitable textile recycling foundation too.
So how can you dispose of underwear and make up, without adding to landfill? If you’d feel ok giving them to a friend (ie in new or decent condition) then a great organisation for this is “Give and Make up”, a charity that works with refuge, supporting women fleeing from domestic violence.
Bra’s can be posted to “Smalls For All” a wonderful organisation that supports women and children in Africa. Closer to home underwear can be donated to your local homeless shelter (in Sheffield check out The Archer Project). Men’s socks, thermals, and women’s underwear are always needed (along with gloves if you have those too!).
At the end of a marriage there’s always the issue of what to do with the wedding dress. Now wedding dresses are difficult to let go of, mainly because when wearing it you probably had one of the most wonderful days of your life. They also cost a lot of money, probably the most expensive outfit you’ve ever purchased too. Two things, cost and sentimentality, that mean it’s more difficult than most items to discard. So how do you let go of something that’s been hidden in a wardrobe for years?
Those of you that have followed me for a while will have heard me mention the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ – where you keep something because of the price it originally cost. Sadly the minute you purchased that item that money has gone, and it never returns, so don’t try to get it back. Just enjoy the fact you’ve had that item for X amount of time and had the thrill of the purchase initially. Selling high cost items is hard as you never get the amount back that you believe it to be worth – as to you it’s worth a lot more personally than others see it financially. Usually in these situations it’s better to just cut your losses and give it away to charity. It’s better to give it away to good causes rather than sad resentment that you let something of value go for so little return. OK, so you won’t get any money, but you do get to feel that it’s gone to someone deserving and you’ve done a positive thing rather than being reminded of the past, which if it’s a marriage that’s broken down seeing a wedding dress can be a constant sad reminder peeking at you from inside the wardrobe!
Two fabulous organisations that can make donating a wedding dress easier are “Heavenly Gowns” and “Gift of a wedding”. Heavenly gowns take wedding dresses and repurpose them into gown sets for babies that have passed away. The gift of a wedding organise weddings for terminally ill patients in hospices. Knowing your wedding dress that was just gathering dust has been used in such a beautiful way can make letting it go much easier. Just having that information can make you see some positivity out of a negative situation.
So if you’re in a position where you need to let go of your past don’t be afraid. Take your time and look towards the future, both for yourself, but also look towards what good these items you no longer need can do for others.