When Is It Time To Throw It Out?

When I first got the idea for this post, I was going to call it “Nothing Lasts Forever”. But I had a feeling that I had already used that title. Sure enough, I wrote a post with that name back in 2014. You can read it here.

That post was more about things you own but have never used. This time, I’d like to address things that have been used too much.

Several of my clients are attached to family heirlooms that were clearly well loved — and well used — by a previous owner. While the client wants to keep the item because of its association with a beloved relative, the item itself is in poor shape and probably beyond repair — chipped, dented, cracked. Often the damage prevents the item from being used for its original purpose.

At what point should we let these items go?

If the item can be displayed in such a way that the damage isn’t visible — and you have the room to display it — then go ahead and display it. Enjoy looking at it and remembering the person it came from.

If it can be professionally restored to its former glory, and you can afford to do so, then that is a good route to take.

If it can be used for a different purpose — such as using a cracked piece of porcelain to hold jewelry or keys instead of food — then give that a try.

What if none of these suggestions are feasible? If you have other items that you inherited from this beloved relative, and they are in better shape than this one, then I think you can let this one go. If you don’t, then take a photo of this one (on its good side!) and then let it go.

Do you think your relative will judge you from beyond for tossing this well-used item? I’m more likely to think that my relatives would be watching my behavior and thinking, “What a knucklehead! I would have tossed that broken thing long ago.”




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