A reader recently submitted the following at Unclutterer.com and as this is such a common question I get from many of my clients I thought I would share it too:
“I have something that I love that recently broke by accident. It has sentimental value (passed to me from an aunt), it is aesthetically my style, it was useful, and it made me smile whenever I saw it. It is still all those things, except that it can no longer be safely used (nor repurposed). It’s also not reparable, and I don’t know where I could get another one to replace it. How do I get rid of it? Any other object like this would go in the trash, but I love it so much. There’s really nothing that can be done with it even if I did save it—it would be clutter. How do I walk myself through this process of getting rid of it? Seems silly to be grieving such a simple object, but I am.”
Response: When accidents happen to objects we used faithfully and loved, it can be difficult to let them go. It’s certainly not easy for me. The objects feel like trusted friends who were there for you when you needed them.
I think the first thing you need to do is thank the object for its service. You could literally say something aloud to it, or you could just spend a minute or two thinking about all the good times you shared. It seems a little silly, but it helps to have the formal goodbye.
Once you’ve acknowledged its service, you can decide how to proceed. Obviously, you can just dispose of the object and be done with it. However, you might need a little more than this to help ease the pain.
You can make a visual tribute to it. Get a shadow box and decorate it with pictures of you and your aunt using the item and maybe a piece of the actual item that broke. Hang the tribute on the wall as long as you need to until your time of grieving has past.
If you’re a journal keeper, you could also glue a picture of it in your journal and then write down the things you thought about it in your formal goodbye.
Since you don’t say exactly what the item is, it’s hard for me to know if you sincerely can’t repurpose it. My guess is that you could break off a chunk of it, drill a hole into it, and make a small piece of it into a bauble on your key ring. If it’s soft, you might be able to sew a piece of it onto a quilt or something else that you use in your home.
Read the original article and readers comments here: http://unclutterer.com/2012/01/20/ask-unclutterer-parting-with-a-cherished-item-that-has-been-broken/