A book I sometimes recommend to people about relationships is Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. He suggests that we each have ways we prefer to give and receive affection, and if we express our affection in a ‘foreign language’ – a way that our partner doesn’t recognise – it can cause problems.
One of the languages is giving and receiving gifts. I didn’t think this was particularly important to me – until I realised how many things I’m reluctant to part with because they were given to me by somebody I care about. It’s not about how valuable the item is – the gift is associated with the person, and giving it away feels like rejecting that person, however illogical that might be.
The other side of this, of course, is that letting something we no longer use go to someone who needs it is in itself a gift. My late husband Peter hated waste. He’d spent a long time in South Africa, where very little is ever wasted – there’s nearly always someone worse off than you who can find a use for it.
After he died, his wedding ring sat on a ring stand on my dressing table, and I began to feel increasingly awkward about it sitting there doing nothing. I didn’t want to sell it, and it was too big for me to wear.
What Did I Do?
I repurposed it.
I now wear a ring that was made from Peter’s wedding ring. A jeweller in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham used the gold to make a new ring – something I could wear. They added inset diamonds to make it more ‘me’, and even recreated the engraving that had been inside the original ring inside this one.
I no longer wear my own wedding or engagement rings (it felt a bit strange to wear something that said so clearly that I have a partner when I don’t any longer), but I wear this all the time – in a way, it feels as though I’m carrying Peter with me. It feels as though it’s a gift from him.
I wonder if there are things you’re holding onto that no longer serve a purpose for you.
I wonder if you can find another way to keep the person who gave them to you in your thoughts.
Perhaps you could find a way for the things to be of use, either to you or to somebody else. And perhaps you (perhaps I) can show yourself that you care about you, by giving yourself the gift of making space in your life for new things by letting the old things go…
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