How We Can Best Honor Our Loved Ones

Best practices for dealing with sentimental items

My beloved father passed away earlier this year. This experience changed me forever and I have an even greater reverence for the sanctity of life and the importance of cherishing our loved ones.

In my work as a professional organizer, I am often asked to assist my clients in handling items that belonged to a loved one who has passed. These items have included china, artwork, clothing, furniture and books. I love to hear the stories that go along with these items and feel honored to assist in paying tribute to these amazing individuals.

Today I would like to share 3 principles which might guide us as we remember and honor our loved ones.


We need to understand and respect our need to hold on to sentimental items. These items represent the life of a cherished person. The item may be something they loved, something they wore, something they earned, or something they used. These items may represent an experience that we shared or it may be a gift that they gave us. We must honor these memories.


We do not honor our loved ones by keeping everything they owned - every coffee mug, every t-shirt, every medal. Select a few items that best represent this person. This may be the favorite coffee mug or book, the t-shirt they wore to your 8th birthday party or their most prized medal. We do not need to keep the entire china set, but perhaps just a few place settings.


We do not honor someone by boxing up their possessions and storing them in a hot attic or in the back of a closet, only to be opened by our children or grandchildren decades from now.  We honor our loved ones by interacting with the items that we select to best represent them. We honor our loved ones by incorporating these important possessions in our daily lives. Rather than boxing up that china, let’s display a portion of it in a china cabinet and use it on special occasions such as our loved one’s birthday. Rather than packing the artwork, let’s display it so that we can enjoy it every day. Rather than displaying the coffee mug, let’s use it for our own coffee and remember our loved ones as we do so. Interacting with these valued possessions allows us to remember our loved ones on a daily basis and is the best way to honor them!

July 2019