Deciding what to lose and what to keep

Q. I would like to pare down all the memorabilia I have accumulated over the years, but I am having a hard time getting started. I’m concerned that my children and grandchildren will want some of these “memories” after I’m gone. Any suggestions?

You could start by asking your children to help you with this project. That way they can decide what they will want to keep. If that isn’t a viable solution, you might want to rethink this project in terms of keeping those things that help in preserving the past. In this way, you keep things which will give your children insight into who you were at different ages and stages of your life.

While you are deciding what to keep, think about the memories associated with the various items. The matchbook collection you made in your 20s is probably safe to toss, while the diary you kept in fifth-grade might give your children and grandchildren some insight into what your life was like then.

If an item is not self explanatory, write the memories down or record them or just tell your children about them. Share your memories with those who also lived them and you may find that the joint exercise brings back related memories you might not have been able to recall on your own. Maybe this is even more important.

Experiences from your own childhood may help make it clearer to your children why you acted or reacted to an event in their own lives. For example, insisting that your second grandchild not wear hand-me-downs might be due to the fact that you always had to wear hand-me-downs from your older sister and she was tall and thin while you were short and pudgy, so her clothes never looked right on you.

All in all, concentrate on saving those items that will leave your children with a sense of who you are.

NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, email it to or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.

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