The dreaded decision

2013-10-29 08.55.49Ok folks, it is your turn to help me declutter, or not.

Just over three years ago, as many of you will remember, I almost lost my son in a terrible bicycle accident. I am certain that he would not be here today had he been one of those foolhardy young people too stubborn to wear a helmet. I see them all the time, some riding along with the helmet hanging over the handlebars when it should be on their heads. Or worse still, perched on their heads with the strap undone ~ I really, really can’t understand the mentality of that decision. Please keep in mind the we have helmet laws here in Australia deeming it compulsory to wear a helmet when riding on public roads.

But I digress. The shattered helmet (photographed above) that saved my son’s life, or at least saved him from a fate worse than death, is still sitting on a shelf in my garage. My husband and I have, so far, avoided  making a decision as to whether we will declutter it. I have consulted both my son and his sister as to whether either of them want the helmet but both have declined. My son has kept the buckled bike frame for now with intentions of possibly using it in an art project. It is at his house so is not an issue for me.

Logic tells me that…

  • …it is just one more thing to fit in to our small apartment when we move in.
  • …I still have my son so I don’t need to keep this thing as some kind of macabre souvenir.
  • …that it is of no use to anyone.

My heart tells me that…

  • …this thing saved my son’s life.
  • …I could put it on display to remind us how lucky we were.

Keep in mind that there is hardly a sentimental item in our home that I wouldn’t happily get rid of should my husband give the nod. I think he thinks I am a little heavy handed with the decluttering of my life’s mementos at times. But this item, I am not too sure whether I am ready to let go. On the other hand I don’t want it cluttering up the limited space in our new apartment. And there isn’t much point in storing it in a cage in the basement. Today’s mini mission was a coincident but perhaps it is trying to tell me something.

Tell me what you think.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a sports related item. No longer used equipment, uniforms, souvenirs or even trophies.

Eco Tip for the Day

Where possible use less of things. You might be surprised how regularly you use more of some things than you need. Here are some products you could probably stand to use less of ~ less shampoo, less conditioner, less laundry detergent, less dishwashing liquid, less toothpaste, hand cleanser, car wash… Quite often advertisements and manufacturers instructions suggest we use more than what we really need. So using even more than that is a fools game, wasting product and your hard earned cash and increasing supply due to demand.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  • Coming full circle ~ By Nicole V He awoke with a start, his heart pounding from the strange dreams that he’d had. He had no idea how long he’d slept. The inky darkness stretched all around him … and the silence, the […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. The first thing that popped into my head is that maybe the helmet (along with the bike) could be used for presentations on the importance of wearing a helmet. It could serve as a good visual dose of reality for kids who don’t think that accidents could ever happen to them. Thank goodness your son made the wise decision to wear his helmet.

  2. ooh, Colleen – this is a dilemma indeed.
    All your reasons for getting rid of it are entirely logical and from an outsiders perspective it is essentially a piece of junk. But, and what a big but, it is a wonderful example of how we imbue objects emotionally. And the emotions you feel around this helmet are legitimate and not irrational.
    My initial inclination is to suggest keeping it for a while longer yet. And when you move and it gets in the way in your smaller space, that might tip the balance and make it easier to throw away.
    The other suggestion is to put it in a half way house to see how you feel about that – is there a friend who could give it a home temporarily until you move, and then once in, you can give yourself a deadline to go get it to keep or ceremoniously throw away.
    And would a little ceremony ( a brief prayer an lighting a candle?) before disposing of it help?

    • Excellent suggestions, Doodle!

    • When I put my teddy bear that my dog had ripped to shreds in the trash (darn dog!) I put pine boughs above and below it so that the other trash wouldn’t touch it. Perhaps something similar?

    • Donate it to a local fire station that does bike safety. They could use it to educate others on the importance of wearing a helmet. Sometimes a visual is much more convincing than telling a young person it is something that they “should” do.

    • That is very nice advice Doodle. Thank you for that and the thought you put into it. I will take that into consideration.

    • Hi – I totally understand where you are. I also think a halfway point is the way to go. But, I don’t think another person’s place is the answer. Rather, I think you should get a box for storage and place the helmet in it. Mark the box as personal storage and place it on a shelf in your basement. If a time comes when you no longer see the helmet, and no longer even think of it, you may be able to remove it from your home. But, you may feel that removing it doesn’t solve anything. Keeping one thing isn’t going to make a big difference overall. You don’t have to be perfect. Your house does not HAVE to be totally clutter free. You are human. You have feelings. And yes, certain objects do cause us to have feelings. They are reminders of past occurrences, past people in our lives or other things. Why do we keep photo albums? Of dead ancestors? Because they link us to our past. To others, they are junk. To us, no, they are family. I feel no shame in keeping something.
      My mother-in -law made us a quilt. To be honest, it is ugly. She couldn’t afford to purchase fabric, so she got free fabric from a factory in town that made men’s pajamas. She went to another factory and found some kind of microfiber cloth for free. It was just scraps. Mind you, she did not have a car, so she had to get a taxi to do this. She had some yarn. She had an old blanket. She used a needle and thread and by hand, she pieced the fabrics together. Just made it work. No design, just fit the pieces together, Put the blanket between the pieced part and a plain part and used the yarn to tie it together. She made it with love for us to help us keep warm in the winter. We used that quilt on our bed, until it was almost threadbare. That quilt is now lovingly stored downstairs. In a special box. I will not part with it. My mother-in-law passed away from cancer about 10 years ago. She left me her mother’s ring. She had no money to leave to her 4 children. But, I do have that quilt. I loved that woman. And I knew she loved me. I don’t need to “declutter” so much that the quilt needs to go. I will never ever get to that point when something can bring back a warm memory and I would decide that I’d rather toss it than keep it.
      Just my point of view. That helmet saved your son’s life. Without it, who knows?

      • Annie, I love the story about the quilt. I wouldn’t get rid of it either. Now that’s a irreplaceable gift.

  3. Oh wow, Colleen. I didn’t know you three years ago, so I had not know this happened to your family. I am glad that your son made it through such a horrific time. As far as decluttering the helmet, I will be of no help. Sorry, dear. I understand both sides of the declutter conundrum. I’d probably keep it. 🙂

  4. Out. It’s a not useful, sentimental object. You don’t need the THING to remind you of the EXPERIENCE. Perhaps the helmet manufacturer would like it back along with a heartfelt not of thanks from you.

    • I like that suggestion of thanking the manufacturer of the helmet, it is a great way to show your gratitude and feel good about no longer having the helmet.

      I think it is not useful or beautiful anymore as others have said, and it is not really serving a purpose for you. It is good to be able to look back on the accident and be thankful that your son is okay, but something tells me you don’t need a helmet to be able to do that. I usually like to keep items that remind me of happy events, not sad/scary/emotional ones. However, if you don’t feel ready yet, it’s okay to hold onto it for a bit longer.

      • Hi Alicia and thank you for your advice. I think that is the direction in which I am leaning. I have my son and that is all that matters. I am luckier than some whose loved ones have received similar injuries.

    • I love this idea, too. Manufacturers probably get more complaints than thanks. I also like the idea of remembering through photos, either in a scrapbook or as the three-part picture Deb suggested. You have your son, so he can be your reminder.

      • Hi Donna, thank you for your input. I have taken a series of photos to keep with the limited photos we have of our son during his recovery. I actually wish we had taken more photos of him at the time so he can see what the alternate outcome could have been had he been less fortunate. He doesn’t remember any of that. By the time his brain could begin remembering short term he was almost fully recovered.

        So bases are covered where photos are concerned. And after reading the suggestions here I think I am convinced to do what I really want to do with it and that is let it go.

        • I like the idea of scrapbooking or using pictures somewhere. I scrapbooked my children’s first year for each of them, and the one that was born premature and in the NICU has pictures of that time. I made sure to put the happy ones, like when I finally got to hold him and when he smiled or slept peacefully in my arms, the day he finally came home etc. It still takes my breath away though; so I would not put those pictures up where I can see them. There are just enough for him so he can tell the story to his little ones someday.

    • Good idea Cindy. I might ask if the cycling shop where he bought his bike if they would like to put in on display as a warning to others to wear a helmet.

    • I agree with Cindy. You have moved on as has your son. Let the helmet go. I like the idea of sending it to the manufacturer with your heartfelt gratitude. And, as Doodle suggested, you could still have a ceremony/blessing before you seal the package. Let it go. I can guarantee you that you and your ‘ohana will never forget what that helmet looked like.

  5. Why not take a photo of it and have it framed? It would make an interesting conversation starter.

  6. My vote is to declutter it. Not useful or beautiful. I’m sure your son is more useful and beautiful than the helmet 😉

  7. When you look at or handle it, do you experience more positive or negative emotions? My instinct, although I could be wrong, is that there are more negative associations than positive. While it reminds you to be thankful that you have your son still, it also reminds you of a terrible experience, and your son’s life is made up of so many more experiences which are 100% positive. Personally, I would rather hold onto some physical mementos from the positive times, particularly as I don’t think you are likely to forget your son’s accident simply because you let go the physical reminder.

    Perhaps there is a bike safety education programme that could make use of it when visiting schools in your area?

  8. Wow…tough decision! This is not about decluttering Colleen, this is about letting go of the past…
    My mom kept some bits of paper on which I wrote how I felt and what I needed when I was very sick (and was about to die) and couldn’t talk anymore. This happened 18 years ago…she was not ready to let them go until last year, she needed to remember. Even though I didn’t agree with her I let her do what she wanted and respected her “timing” to accept and release.
    I think you shouldn’t force yourself to trash that helmet, if truly you’re not ready, but think about it: you really need to be constantly reminded of your son’s accident? Wouldn’t it be better to do like Doodle suggests (a little ceremony) and show gratitude to the object and to the Universe for protecting your son and then let go of the past?

  9. Colleen, I was faced with the same sort of decision a couple of years ago. My infant son died suddenly and in the ambulance they cut his little jumper off him in order to try resuscitation. Now that jumper was the first “little boy” item he had as opposed to baby things and I loved him in it. I kept that jumper which was cut open down the front for over 20 years. Then one day I thought ” what is the point?” And got rid of it. I have not missed it, nor the sad memories it brought with it.

    • Hi Sue J, thank you for sharing your story with me. I am sorry you weren’t as lucky as I was. Your story confirms my gratitude for his survival and remarkable recovery and that is enough for me. The helmet can go. I am glad also that you managed to get through what must have been a terrible time for you.

  10. I am in favor of taking a picture and then decluttering it If it would make you feel better, a ceremony would be appropriate. It is time to let go of the past and this move is an excellent time to do this.

  11. I’m with Adrienne. You’ve got the photo and this blog about it. You have your gratitude for the helmet and your son. Let it go and I’ll try to get rid of something obsolete in my life. We don’t need broken things.

  12. I’m with Cindy. Out it goes … either in the trash or to the manufacturer. The manufacturer might find it useful to know how it held up as a protective device, or they could add it to their “hall of fame”.

    But yep, sometimes with some things they have to lie there long enough to get covered in dust before their significance has waned enough to allow you to let go. Says she who’s having a sort out of boxes that seem to have been moved multiple times and rarely opened.

    Occasionally living in a place where dust, mold, UV damage or insects take over anything that’s not being actively maintained is a highly efficient way to declutter.

    • Hi Kate thank you for your input. I have sent the letter of thanks to the manufacturer. I will post their response at the end of the day. The helmet has been out in my garage for three years now. Since it has not found a place on honour in the house in all that time I think it is time to let it go.

  13. Colleen, I am with Adrienne. Take a picture of it then toss it. If you have any pictures of Liam while he was in hospital do a three picture collection (broken helmet, Liam in hospital, Liam now) and put it where it will remind you. My cousin did that with their son’s car wreck. They have pictures of the badly wrecked car and then one of Dan standing and looking at it. It reminds them daily to thank God he is okay.

    • I like you idea Deb J, the pictures would look good together. I might need more than three as we have some photos of the twisted bike as well. I will leave that project until we move in. With fewer walls we are going to have to put some thought into photo and art placement. I will also make a page for his scrapbook.

  14. Sometimes you have to listen to your heart. I say keep it; clearly you’re not ready to let go or you wouldn’t be having this discussion. It’s not like you’re saying you’re never going to declutter it; you’re just choosing to do so at another time. I have two of my mum’s bathing suits in a suitcase. When I cleared out her apartment after she died the mere thought of tossing something with such powerful memories had me hyperventilating. For now, they remain but time may make letting go a bit easier.

    • Hi Kati, thank you for your heartfelt advice. I think I was teetering on the edge of this decision and just needed a little advice to tip me one way or the other. I understand why you have kept those mementoes of your mum but I think that I am ready to let go. I am in the fortunate position that I still have my son and that is the best memento ever.

      One thing that came to my own mind while reading these comments today was that ~ Had my son died or worse would I blame the very same helmet for not keeping him safe. It makes me wonder.

  15. Why don’t you find out if your local Police/Public Safety Dept. has a Bicycle Safety Program…They could use it as an example and truthfully say that Bicycle helmets do save lives…I also like Doodle’s suggestion…Good luck with your decision!

  16. I had a similar decision to make when I de-cluttered my Transformers. These toys (and original G1 Television show) saved me from committing suicide in my teens. Back then the original Transformers show was one of the only things that gave me the will to live, amongst the relentless teasing and bullying and parents who did not understand me. I had almost 20 large boxes of them and collected more when first two new movies came out as a force of habit. In 2010, I woke up one morning, around October and asked myself “how many versions of Optimus Prime do I actually need?” I began selling them on eBay and found there were heaps more that I was okay releasing many more of them, including ones form the original movie in 1986 (which was awful.) I let my beloved Transformers, as well as a heap of fantasy and science-fiction figures (which helped me through my depression in my 20’s,) go with love to new homes.

    In the end, I kept one of the larger boxes and a smaller one of my very favourite Transformers. I realised that I didn’t need boxes and boxes of them, but am still very grateful for them and always will be, for pulling me through my painful adolescence and early 20’s.

    As the helmet is broken, perhaps it can be recycled? Perhaps you can let the helmet go with love.

    • What a wonderful story to share with me Titania. Thank you so very much. I am glad that you have made it through thus far. I suffer from depression on and off and can understand what a life saver these items must have been for you. You might be happy to know that I volunteer at a fundraising thrift store for an organisation that runs suicide help lines. It is nice to know that what I do aids in saving peoples lives. Just like my son’s helmet did I suppose. I am ready to let the helmet go. Thank you again for your advice.

      P.S. I hope you made lots of cash selling those items and that in turn brought its own joy to your life.

  17. I think if you are considering parting with this, you should just do it. Yes, it saved your son’s life. But are you going to go dig it out and show it off when you tell the story of what happened? Will it be passed down for generations to come? Probably not. I just see something that will have to be moved about here and there. Memories are in your head, but when you look around you want to see things that make you happy and your life better. You have held on long enough, time to move on – I give you permission. I get the emotional ties, trust me. But in theory, if this was a car that saved your son’s life – would you really want it parked in your garage/yard/driveway? Probably not LOL!

  18. I’m imagining if someone else posed this question, you might suggest, “You still have your son to remind you everyday that his helmet saved his life,” so you can now let go of this reminder. It is your son who is your most precious “possession”.

    • You are right Pat, if someone asked me the same question I would probably say “let it go”. How does the saying go ~ Take your own advice. I will do that. Thank you.

  19. By all means take a photo. Two! One for you and one for son. Then, since it is no longer beautiful or used, toss it.

  20. I think if you aren’t ready and you don’t want to…don’t. You never know in the future how you might feel ‘ready’ and there is little point (in my view) of forcing yourself to get rid of something if you don’t want to before good time.

    But as a suggestion incase you do decide to declutter it – how about scrapbooking about it? You could put photos, maybe even include a little snippet of the strap and write how you feel about it 🙂

  21. Could it be a teaching tool in a school? As you said: “I see them all the time, some riding along with the helmet hanging over the handlebars when it should be on their heads.” Your story deserves to be shared.

    (And I’d keep a photo of it also.)

  22. My gut says… “you have your SON, that is the important part, not the helmet”

    I had a similar dilemma when my fiancé was almost torn apart in a motorcycle accident – he was badly injured, but it could have been so much worse if he hadn’t been wearing all the right protective gear on that long, hot ride. The helmet was deeply gouged and cracked and the leather of the boots, cloves and jacket was shredded and melted from the high speeds… the jacket was the sentimental thing. It had belonged to his uncle who, as it happened, died in a motorcycle accident on a hot summer’s day because he wasn’t wearing his coat (punctured lung). Seeing this mangled bit of leather I got choked up that it served it’s purpose so well simply by being available to my man… I was infinitely thankful to the THING for saving my future husband (now married almost 20 years). But I only thought to keep it for a moment. Looking at it filled us with such strong emotion that it’s very presence drained us. I said my heartfelt thank you’s, took some photos and let it go. My sister took it away.

    The photos have been shown to our kids… they get it. The safety stuff protects what you value most.

  23. Do you really need us to tell you what your heart already knows? Colleen, you are a master declutterer! Your son’s amazing helmet did its job. It saved your son’s life. It is no longer useful, but is filled with the memories of what it accomplished, and your son is here to prove it. I really, really like Deb J’s idea of taking the photos a putting them on the wall—a constant reminder of the importance of safety and the gratitude you have for your son’s obedience to that. You will want to share that with his children one day and the photo idea is a great idea, reduces the space allotted and if the time comes that later you wish to declutter that also, you can decided then. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposal. There is a way to find a middle-ground between your heart and your head.

  24. My first thoughts of what I would do is to put it in a clear plastic case and pass it along to an organization, etc that could use it as a teaching tool on the benefits of helmets. It is currently in the news recently here in Alberta, Canada as to whether helmet use should be mandatory.

  25. Are there any bike safety trainers that might welcome it as a prop for when they hold events?

  26. What a dilemna. I can see reasons for keeping it and for disposing of it (great ideas re the manufacturer, bike safety classes, BTW). But if you are teetering on the edge of a decision, perhaps it would help to consider your reaction when you see it. Is your first reaction “that accident” or “thank god my wonderful son is still in my life?” If the former, think hard about keeping something negative in your life. If the latter then keep it a while longer.

    I think it was Peter Walsh who used to talk about showing that something sentimental was important to you by properly displaying. Would you want it in a shadow box on your wall where you could see it every day? Or have it painted or gold leafed or decorated and then hung up where you could see it all the time? If you don’t, then I would lean towards decluttering it.

    But we can all give you our ideas and still, you will be the one to decide when you are ready, if ever. Be gentle with yourself on making the decision. And celebrate that your son is.

  27. I like the framed picture idea. It takes up less space and becomes a great conversation starter.

  28. Tough one.
    First off I like Doodle’s suggestion of a ceremony and Alice’s suggestion of thanking the manufacturer but I think Lynda’s suggestion of the bike safety trainer is the winner in my opinion.

    Some weeks back I read a post on Midway Simplicity and there was a quote that I really love:
    Old baggage never fits well into new spaces – Akilah Richards

    The helmet served its purpose and it served it well. Its journey as a bicycle helmet is over.

    Liam got better – thank goodness – but sounds like he has moved on too. His life is on a new journey.

    You are about to start a new journey to a new home and a new way of living, if it were me, I’d let it go. It is from the past.

    The helmet and possibly the bike could have a new journey with a bike safety instructor. And could make a huge difference to someone else’s life too, if some little boy and girl sees the damaged helmet and resolves to wear their own helmet from then on.

  29. You know, if it were me, I don’t think I would want a constant reminder of a brush with death hanging over my head. I was in a not very serious bike accident a few years ago and it took me years to face that intersection again… I certainly wouldn’t want to be reminded of that accident on a daily basis!

    But here’s a thought. Have you considered looking for a bike-advocacy group or something that might be able to use it? I don’t know how it works in Australia since helmets are mandatory, but here there are groups that do bike safety presentations to kids in schools etc. Perhaps they could use it as part of their presentation? I could see them telling your son’s story and using the helmet as a visual aid to encourage children to always wear a helmet when riding.

    Just a thought…

  30. Is it useful to You? Were You will put it after the move? If You have a box of Your sentimental items and it fits in, I’d say keep it, or make a photo and keep that. I somehow don’t believe that You would like to keep it displayed on a shelf.
    Emotionally I would say – better put a photo of Your son somewhere, because, hey, he is the one You love, and while the helmet may remind You, how he survived the accident, it also reminds You of the accident as something bad that happened to him.

    Other thought – can You make it useful? Customize it to be a bowl or something. Or keep a small piece for Your sentimental collection.
    Do You have any other stuff that reminds You of that happening? A photo of happy recovering son? Isn’t it enough?

  31. Like everyone else, I can understand the emotional reasons for hanging onto the helmet. But it wasn’t just the helmet that saved him. What about all the medical treatment? Are you hanging onto any items from the hospital? Has this one item been imbued with all the memories and emotions from that horrible time?

    You don’t want to hang onto it and store it like some sacred relic in a sacristy, do you? Or are you fearful that disposing of it will open up the pain and anguish you felt three years ago?

    I say, ask a friend to come and remove it, if you can’t. But I would toss it, while giving internal thanks for its work and knowing that even a helmet doesn’t save some people. I nearly lost my child when he was a baby. 17 years ago and I can still feel my physical pain when I think of it and seeing him be resuscitated. Trust me, you don’t need an item to remember the pain, nor to remind yourself how lucky you are to still have him.

  32. Normally I would say it served it’s purpose now it isn’t useful any more so get rid of it. But just the way you wrote down your reasoning shows that the emphasis is on keeping it. All your capital letters IT SAVED HIS LIFE indicate it’s an important object to you still. Therefore I agree with the’ keep it a while yet’ side even though you are moving. Some day a ceremonial letting go may seem appropriate.

  33. Hi Colleen, I understand your dilemma… I still have that with a lot of my family’s stuff (3 deaths) but this is about you.
    I think that since it is your son’s helmet that you give it back to him and let him decide. He may also want to include it with the bike when it becomes an art piece. You have him… that’s ALL you need.
    Love and light and gentleness
    xoxoxo Diana

    • Hi Diana, I have asked my son and he said he doesn’t want it. He has the bike and the patched together T-shirt that was cut off him in the ER. That is enough for him. I have decided to let it go. Thank you for your thoughts as I appreciate everyones help.

  34. I don’t like to keep things that bring back sad memories. Thanks to you, I got rid of a gorgeous gift I was given that turned out to bring up very sad memories. I loved it, used it, didn’t want to part with it, but I am so glad I did. I would say if the helmet brings you joy, keep it, but if it brings it all back for you like your son was just in danger, get it out and enjoy him as he is now.

  35. Colleen, its been a long time since I replied to a post – although I am reading daily, but now I have to comment here as well.

    I have been decluttering with this mantra “easy things first” – until there were no easy things anymore. and then I stopped. Because I followed the advice and turned it into the other side of the calculation: If it is not easy to declutter, there is no need to force a decision, because I might change my opinion tomorrow… I often did. funny enough, you taught me that. so I say: keep the helmet, for all of the LIFE SAVING reasons, and then one day, it will be easy for you to throw it in the trash, because you will see it as the unuseful object that it is nowadays. it was not the helmet that saved Liams life, but Liam, who decided to wear a helmet…

  36. Colleen, Maybe I’m being entirely too logical, but I am thinking this should be the easiest thing you would ever declutter. It would seem to me that you would not want something around to remind you of how close your son came to losing his life. It’s like being reminded of the negative side of the tragedy instead of the positive.

    My 72 year old husband was knocked down and run over by the loaded tractor trailer rig he was driving last Dec. (long story). It is also a miracle he is alive and walking. I am having to save the pair of smashed in, steel toed shoes he was wearing for possible legal reasons, but I’d LOVE to throw them out and I am NOTHING like the champion declutterer YOU are. : )

    The suggestions of thanking the manufacturer of the helmet were nice, too.

  37. I have been reading through all these very thoughtful posts, but thinking that there is a point being missed – and then I saw Lena had already said it. The helmet didn’t save your son’s life, he saved his own life, by wearing the helmet. Or you might say that the manufacturer of the helmet saved your son’s life, by making a high quality helmet. Part of the reason we spend so much time thinking about whether or not to dispose of certain items is that we imbue them with qualities and abilities they don’t really have – like the ability to save someone’s life. Only the wearer of the helmet has that ability, by wearing a helmet correctly and consistently. You have your son, so I think it would be okay to declutter the helmet. Someone suggested lighting a candle, that is a really nice idea, and thanking the manufacturer would be an excellent idea as well.

  38. Someone might have already posted this idea, since I have not yet read all the comments.
    Like artwork or sentimental items that you might not keep long, save a photograph of it
    to place somewhere. I do think the idea of keeping the helmet in a stored box somewhere for
    a few months is good, just to think about it a little longer. Maybe you would decide to let it go.
    Maybe inside a paper sack, by itself and placed gently in your trash bin. It is hard to put certain
    items in the trash.

  39. I would go by how the helmet makes you feel when you come across it. When you see it are you filled with joy and a smile that you know your son is alive and safe? Or, when you see it does it make your heart sink and fill you with dread that something similar could happen again? I would keep it if it brought me joy and not keep it if it brought me that sinking feeling.

    • Hi Claire, good questions. I look at it with gratitude but also think I don’t need this thing taking up space. Every time I see my son I am grateful so I suppose I don’t need the helmet taking up space. Thank you Claire, although those thoughts have lead me to a different conclusion to yours advice was still helpful.

  40. Is there a small part like a buckle you can remove? Perhaps put it on a ribbon or pin back and make yourself a small memory piece.

  41. I have to say that before I even saw some of your bullets, my gut said to get rid of it because there is nothing better than the sight of your living son to remind you of how thankful you are. A ceremony might be a good way to mark the occasion of letting it go.

  42. This is the first time I have made a post, but I follow your blog.
    I would say that you are uncertain of getting rid of the helmet or you would not have put out this post. However, Colleen, you have said that you want to get rid of it, several times in this post.
    I know that sometimes I need that extra push or permission to do so. Especially if the item has had a lot of sentiment attached to it.
    You have taken photos, which take up little space, should you ever want to look at it again.
    I am trying to do things as simple as possible, due to a chronic illness. I would give you permission to let go, and move on. In sharing your story, you have shared with all of us what is really important in this life.
    Whatever you decide will be the right decision for you. All the best.

  43. I believe giving it to the shop where it was purchased would be a good alternative to getting rid of it completely. It would be a good learning tool for the shop and you wouldn’t have to put it in the trash. You could go see it when you wanted to, but more importantly, because of it, you can visit your son whenever you want to. No need to keep it in your new place.

  44. Hi Colleen,
    I was in a serious bike accident about 9 years ago, I also have kept my crushed helmet, I keep it as a reminder, not only to wear a helmet when bicycling but as a good luck sign. good Luck on your decision!

  45. I see from your replies to the comments, Colleen, that you’ve probably already decided.

    But in case there’s still any doubt, and for anyone else making a similar decision, remember that decluttering is to make room in our homes for the things we want to keep. That includes sentimental items. Maybe right now the helmet is still something you want to keep. Get rid of some things that are easier and provide the room to keep it. You’ll know when you’re ready to let it go, too.

  46. The helmet isn’t doing any good on a shelf – put it where it will do some good. Write up your son’s story and have the helmet and the story framed, then check with your local bike stores, your local emergency room, your local urgent care, or perhaps a driver’s ed facility and find a new home for the helmet. The story and the visual of the helmet will remind others that they may want to think twice about going without a helmet. I don’t know how old your son is, but another idea is to have the display put up at the high school or college where he graduated – a reminder to the students to think twice.

  47. Hi Colleen – Lots of people , incuding Lena, Moni, Brenda and Megan have said what I would have said – but more eloquently ! so I will just add one small comment – I think it would be bad Feng shui to even have a photo of the inanimate object( the helmet ) in your house . The photo may be entirely appropriate in another context – bike shop , road safety class etc – but not in your house – a happy photo of your son would be a positive energy and a photo of the helmet a negative energy .Had to laugh when reading Cindy’s comment – she knows you well enough to say it straight -“out”! And you know she’s right ! Totally understand the intensity of all the emotion though – my daughter survived being hit by a car many years ago and from reading all the comments I think I’m not the only one who relates to your situation.

  48. The helmet is unsafe to use as it is.

    I haven’t read all the comments, yet, but am wondering if you need to de-clutter this one at this time. This is one the hard decisions we save to last. Are you already at the bottom of the barrel?

    Personally, I think I’d keep it. Not sure where I’d put it but I’ve got a piece of my husband’s hardhat on the shelf next to some company/industry related items. Yes, just a piece, hardhats break when you hit them hard enough.

  49. Thank you to everyone who commented here today with your advice on what I should do about the helmet. I appreciate each and everyone of you for your assistance. I have decided to let the helmet go. I hope I can find a bicycle safety program that I can donate it to otherwise I will carefully dispose of it.

    I would love to replay to each and everyone of you but my day is running out so please let this be my thank you to all those lovely people whose comments I haven’t had a chance to reply to.

    Thank you all again.

  50. Hi Colleen,

    there are many stations on our personal road map where decisions between death and life take place. Some of them are obvious (as the one of your son), others not. How many time life would have killed us if we had been just one minute earlier or later?

    For me it is wise to have anchors in life that remind us of our transcience.
    But! I am sure a digital picture possibly artfully “instagramed” on your desktop or a poster on the wall can do the same.

    We can conclude: this thing has done it’s job – let it go.

    And even if this possibly not the right place for macaber jokes: What comes next? Will decorate your home with used air bags or fire extinguishers? 😉

    Best regards from Germany