Downsizing is painful for this baby boomer

This is a story to which a lot of us can relate as baby boomers. Namely, the pain of downsizing. Sure, it’s supposed to uncomplicated our lives, but as Dian Parrotta writes from Falls Church, Virginia, it also complicates our emotions.

Throwing out the many boxes of memorabilia up in the attic was one hard part of downscaling for this boomer.

Downsizing from a large home to a smaller home can bring a host of emotions of guilt and sadness. There were at least ten boxes of loose photos, kids’ school papers, reports, vacation mementoes that could not be given away to my two sons since they both live in Europe and like to keep what they own in one single suitcase.

Dian Parrotta

So the other I took three of those 30-gallon Heavy Duty Brown Lawn and Refuse Bags up into the attic and emptied some boxes without looking and threw the contents into the garden bags and tossed them into the outside garbage bins. There is just not enough space to take everything with me and I had to let go, and did, but not without guilt.

The many accumulated items each held significant value to me, kept throughout the years so I could pass them on to my two sons later in their life but I was told they had no room for them and they could not store them for the long term. That left me feeling so hopeless.

That next morning, I got up early and could not help but go back to the garbage bins and take out those garden bags that I had thrown out and went through and looked at each item. I saved only a few paper mementoes and scanned them and immediately texted them to my sons. They both enjoyed them, including a poem my younger son wrote while he was in the third grade and it is titled Spring Time and it reads:

Red Roses

Sweet smell

Pretty birds

Wonderful wings

Butterflies fly

With color

Sunshine bright

Gardens bloom

He responded that he remembers writing the poem and mentioned the name of his third-grade teacher, Ms. Schillig. He went on and said, “Now Ms. Lewis was a character!”

It killed me to think I could have thrown out this poem, knowing how much it brought back memories for him.

Years earlier, I had scanned many of the items that were stored in the attic but there were so many that I stopped posting on Facebook and stopped making files, feeling I was being more of a corny nuisance than anything.

Dian Parrotta

But now, I felt like I was in a state of mourning. I’ve heard it can take months to feel better and I guess the one thing that did help me was knowing that when I do move, I will be able to enter into the next phrase of my life with a suitcase or two.

There is also a great satisfaction that I will have left most of my donations to others. I know that will help bring me happiness.


    1. Thank you for reading. It’s difficult tossing items that contain so many memories out. A reader recently suggested reading Marie Kondo’s method of letting go of things. She calls it the Shinto Way of living. I am going to get her books out from the library!

  1. Your thoughts tugged at my heart, but it helps me to know others are facing the same challenge. Perhaps a necessary rite of passage into the next phase of life? You are not alone!

    1. Thank you Salli for your reply. I wrote the article because as a volunteer with Volunteer Solutions at Fairfax County, a program that helps seniors, I found out that my challenge of getting rid of memorabilia is also a problem with the seniors I volunteer for. Decluttering their collections of sentimental items is difficult to do. I was supposed to help with downsizing as a volunteer organizer and found that responsibility was a very difficult task to do.

  2. So very true Diane. It’s so hard to let anything go
    I always hope our Kids will want something but they don’t have large houses. We are at the age that we need to start cleaning out our many treasures. Enjoyed your article.

    1. Dear Michele,
      Thank you for reading. I found that when I organized the items in three sections: Sell, Donate and Junk that helped me with the letting go.
      Thank you for reading.

    1. Dear Christine,
      I just got rid of my infant blanket my mom had made for me. She hand sewn and knitted it. I gave it to Good Will. I had whispered aloud, “Mom, I just cannot keep everything anymore.”
      I felt happy to think that someone will probably use this lovely handmade blanket for their infant.
      Thanks for reading.

  3. Nice article. We started downsizing and took photos of photos and let all the hard copies go. All the photos are in google photos with time line. Also scanned important documents and have saved them on computer. Less hard copies and less boxes to deal with.

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