General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

How do you cope with the loss of important or precious sentimental items?

Asked by Yellowdog (10902points) October 6th, 2019

A piece of jewelry, an irreplaceable photograph of someone extremely special (maybe even one of yourself in earlier times). Something you wrote, or a letter you received back when people wrote letters. A souvenir that fleshes out the memory of a perfect vacation from the distant past. Touchstones of who we are.

Have you ever lost something of great value to YOU? I tend to fly into panic mode, tear things apart looking for it, and fret all night long. I know I’m weird, but there are things I’ve been looking for for years, and mourn the loss of the irretrievable.

Some sentimental objects are other people’s trash and they cannot identify it as valuable and toss it. Other sentimental objects are other people’s treasures and they are stolen. They can be replaced, with something suitable, but not like what you had. Other things are just misplaced or lost because we were distracted. Or they were lost to natural disasters such as fires, floods, or hurricanes.

Have you ever lost anything you can tell about?

And, how do you cope with this? How do you find peace when losing something irreplaceable?

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31 Answers

MrGrimm888's avatar

Not only did I lose everything. I had to drag it’s remains to the trash. You cannot cope with it.

Items that are destroyed, are simply gone. Even if you replace the item, with a similar item, the sentimental value is gone…

JLeslie's avatar

I do a massive search in a state of panic. If I don’t find it, I’ll do the search a few days in a row. Then usually, every few weeks or months I do it again. I have found things that I thought were lost forever.

johnpowell's avatar

I think I am dead inside. I have pretty much zero attachment to stuff.

When I was 10 my mom killed my dad we did a runner and drove GMC Jimmy across the country and down into Mexico. Lived out of the thing for about six months.

My mom is now a hoarder and I have put some clothes in a backpack and have moved 1000 miles away and put the rest out on the curb. I have lost some irreplaceable pictures from my youth but only cared for about ten seconds. 42 years old and I moved last year and all I wanted to bring fit in a single load of a stupid truck with a short bed.

Waaaaaait.. I never put this together. But this makes some sense.

Enter the Polar Bear

When I was around five we were at Valley River Center (a mall!) and this store had this big stuffed polar bear I desperately wanted. It was about a meter tall and really soft. And really expensive. About $120 in early 80’s dollars. But mother got it for me because dad was drunk and didn’t pay attention to the finances.

The polar bear was my Linus blanket.

The polar bear was one of the things that made it into the Jimmy five years later. Left the Nintendo behind, took the bear.

I had never thought about this until this question. But the bear met a tragic end in Mexico.

The engine in the Jimmy seized (I am now a oil change nazi) a few hundred miles north of Mazatlan. And we waited all day on the side of highway for the green angels to come by and tow us someplace.

Fuck, this is why I don’t eat tuna

So the green angel is towing us north to a town where we could get the car repaired. We didn’t actually have the money to get the car repaired. But we were pretty much broke and the driver of the tow truck was nice enough to buy us sandwiches from a random place. It was just tuna on bread.. My stomach did not agree with it. Haven’t eaten tuna since. Again, just put this together. Until sixty seconds ago I knew I didn’t like tuna, now I know why.

The tow truck driver drops us in some townish thing that is basically a truck stop and a deal is made. Mother gives the owner the Jimmy and he gets us bus tickets to Tijuana. But the bus would take a while to get there. But giving the dude our busted Jimmy meant all the steak tacos and soda we could eat in his truck-stop.

Shocker, space is at a premium when you catch a bus to the United States border from deep inside Mexico in 1988

So choices were made. Polar Bear was left behind.

Mother was going to take us to the border where my aunt would pick us up. And then mom would go back down and figure out how to get the Jimmy and our stuff back. She didn’t do this. We don’t really talk about this. At this point there is a warrant out for her arrest and she never contacted us until she was arrested hopping in a box-car in Arizona a few years later. In hindsight my mother is a serious bad-ass.

But polar bear lost.. And I think that is why I don’t care about possessions. Learned the lesson early that shit can just vanish and it is out of your control so don’t bother caring.

The funny thing is my mom took the totally opposite tract and now hoards magazines.

And now I am going to email her since I figured out why I don’t care.

PaisleyFaye's avatar

Stay calm, relax, and when you let your guard down is when it will surface. But yes, I know the feeling of losing something od value, not a good feeling at all to have. Do a good backtrack and look in places you wouldn’t think it would end up. I hope you find it. GOOD LUCK!!!

seawulf575's avatar

The step daughter, during her heroin days, stole all my wife’s jewelry including my wife’s grandmother’s wedding ring and her mother’s wedding ring. The mother had died less than two months before. The jewelry was all sold for scrap to a disreputable place and was melted down (or sold off…no proof of that though).
We dealt with it as we could….tracked down where it was sold to and tried to get it back, but it was long gone by that time (so they said). But at some point you have to admit it is just gone. Once you have done everything in your power to try to find it or recover it, you have to admit it is just stuff. The wedding rings, for instance, were not the grandmother or the mother. They were merely reminders of them that were sitting in a box.

janbb's avatar

@johnpowell Your story never fails to move me every time you reference it. Good on you all for making it through.

As for me, I take the loss of prized possessions less hard than I used to but still find it upsetting. My favorite handmade pottery mug fell off my walker a week ago and it bothers me.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@seawulf575 . I get it. My uncle killed himself, when I was 14. In his suicide note, he mentioned that one of the reasons why he took his life, was that he couldn’t stop stealing from his own mother.

raum's avatar

@johnpowell Hoarding is often a reaction to trauma. Can definitely see the reverse happening as well. Glad you made it through all of that. Maybe you should get a tattoo of that bear. It captures so much of what you went through.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Time usually takes care of that for me.
I am disappointed that I did not think of asking my dad for some of my mom’s drawings after she died.
After he got married again, his wife threw them all away, along with other things that clearly involved my mother.
She was jealous and envious of my mother and demonstrated it often. Bizarre.
We though she would at least call and ask if any of us kids wanted them but she didn’t,so that is that.
I remember her and her drawing style very well though and I can think of it/her whenever I want. So,it’s not truly a terrible loss. :)

snowberry's avatar

I grew up in a home full of priceless antiques that had been in my family for hundreds of years. Every time I move I’m reminded of Bekins, “The Careful Movers”. That’s such a lie! They promised me the moon and dumped a pile of useless trash in my driveway.

The loss was quite comparable to losing a child.

canidmajor's avatar

I was raised with the belief that the Valuable Stuff was more valuable than anything else, including the happiness/bonds/well-being of the family. As a result, I don’t give a damn. I have a boatload of stuff that I could walk away from. And now that I have estranged myself from my family of origin, the heirlooms, the family mementos, all that is lost to me. And I don’t care.

There are things that I have that “spark joy”, but nothing I couldn’t let go of.

And I guess this doesn’t help, sorry. Remember the emotional value of the things, it may ease the physical loss.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s kind of like a grieving process. You never forget the object that was lost and you will always miss it, but you just pick up and go on.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I have photographed sentimental items of my late Mother ( the blouse and sweater that she wore and was photographed in a portrait studio years ago).

I obtained these items both sweater and blouse from my older sister as she divided Mothers things inappropriately after the Funeral when the family met for lunch etc

I asked permission from the Funeral Director If I could have a small “lock” of my mother’s hair and got permission from the Guardian ( older sister) to do so.

These items are a personal bond that I share with my late mother, and I have photographed these items in a Family History Book , just in case they get lost, destroyed etc

That way it is always there displayed in that book forever.

I feel better knowing that that memory is preserved for future generations.

I feel that I have done my part to impart her memory and if I lose her personal items I am content that I did the best that I could to imprint her time on this earth.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I lost a lanyard I got from a minister in my university. I lost my original birth certificate and my science project that I was working on that was hidden in a secret compartment in a dresser that my father sold.

chyna's avatar

I’m not really very sentimental, so I don’t dwell on the loss of items. People and animals I do dwell on, but in happy ways.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I try and learn from it so it doesn’t happen again.
I know that isn’t much help, but always try and keep small said items in the same place.

YARNLADY's avatar

I thought I lost the only valuable thing I own, a family heirloom engagement ring. I was very distraught, but placed an insurance claim and started looking at replacement rings, I found it and was very relieved,

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m also not very sentimental about ‘stuff’, so I just acknowledge it’s gone and move on.

The strings attached to some stuff are tougher, like gma’s china, so I do my best to take good care of those things. It’s an emotional and physical commitment that I really don’t enjoy tbh.

gorillapaws's avatar

My mom once told me of a story from an art class where all of the students spent weeks making a piece of art, and then they burned all of the artwork. My interpretation of this is that the art lives in their memory and that the value of the art was in the journey to produce it, not in the physical item itself. Ultimately stuff is just stuff (even sentimental stuff) and it weighs us down.

snowberry's avatar

@gorillapaws That’s true, until that art becomes a part of history or an icon of our culture. Then its value increases tremendously. Every time a beautiful old building burns down, or a gorgeous antique is destroyed, we all lose value and we all are hurt, whether we realize it or not.

anniereborn's avatar

I am a person who needs their senses to connect to something. I have taken pictures of things I never want to lose, in case. But I really feel little attachment that way. I need to be able to hold something, to smell it (i don’t generally lick things tho), to hear it if it makes some kind of noise.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I guess it would depend on what it was. I had both my wedding set from my first marriage, and my mom’s wedding set. My middle daughter asked for them. She wanted to put them in a vault at the home of her ex’s parents. I shouldn’t have given them to her. They are nowhere to be found now, and that hurts a little.

Also, much of my furniture has a lot of sentimental value. Some of it came to me from the house I grew up in, other pieces are a tie to a life I no longer have.

anniereborn's avatar

@Dutchess_III I have the very same situation with my furniture.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I call them “pieces.” :D

MrGrimm888's avatar

“Stuff,” isn’t just stuff… I loved my bed, and my leather couch. I have never been a rich man, and all of my things had value. To me. It broke my heart, carrying the soaked remains, to the curb…

kruger_d's avatar

My parents gave their beautiful threadbare oriental rug for my apartment. I had spent much of my youth playing on it. While I was hospitalized my landlord replaced it with a cheap beige rug thinking I would be pleased because new is better, right? I had moved in before he bought the place, and he assumed the rug was his to replace. He told me it was gone, but later I found it in a heap in the garage. Mice had ruined it so I had to throw it out myself. That hurt. I though about getting something similar to replace it, but decided it would just feed my resentment like the beige rug did.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That is so sad @kruger_d. I am so sorry. He had no right to go into your apartment, either. Not without your permission.

MrGrimm888's avatar

There’s something about having to throw out stuff, that adds insult to injury. Having to understand that the object, is ruined, and having to personally dispose of it, makes it shittier…

I’ve had my belongings stolen before. That sucked. But it didn’t hurt the same, as having to see my thongs ruined, and remove them myself… I feel your pain @kruger_d .

kruger_d's avatar

Umm. . .Do you mean “things ruined”?
Shittier, indeed.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Yes. The only thing I haven’t lost, is spell check…

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