A little background -
My MIL lives in a 3500 square foot home by herself, with 5 bedrooms, a 3 car garage, and office space. Her husband died about five years ago, and her parents died the year after that.
She decided she wanted to move near us, since we are about 3 1/2 hours away from her current home, and her other son lives about another 3 1/2 hours further from us. The home she is building is about 2000 square feet, with a two car garage, and since her current home is basically bursting at the seams with STUFF, she obviously needs to downsize, she realizes that she needs to downsize, and while we've been trying to help her, it feels like we're just banging our heads against a wall.
The one major issue is that she has deluded herself into thinking that people are going to visit her so much that she has to have dedicated spaces/furniture/seating for them (and we've given up trying to reason with her on that one), but the bigger issue is that she's got a serious emotional attachment to things that belonged to her deceased parents and husband. I guess I'm just looking for ideas/insight into how to better approach the situation, because it's extremely frustrating.
For instance, her father had a collection of 100+ lighthouse figurines. She didn't even really like her father; he was apparently not the nicest person in the world, but every time she goes down to Florida to visit her sister and brother-in-law, she comes back with boxes and boxes of these lighthouses. There are eight boxes of them sitting in a hallway (untouched) from her trip last year. We've been asking her what she's planning to do with them (since she has a separate collection of lighthouses of her own that she and her late husband visited together), and saying maybe she could keep three or four of her dad's lighthouses and get rid of the rest. She'd agree to that plan every time we brought it up. But, a few months ago when we were at her house, she had two new curio cabinets delivered and put in her foyer that already holds three curio cabinets and a table full of pictures and figurines. We asked what they were for, and she said, "Dad's lighthouses." FRUSTRATING! (Of course, said curio cabinets still do not have lighthouses in them, and sit empty, months later, and the lighthouses are still in their boxes.)
She just visited them last week and came back with six more boxes of lighthouses. We had her go through them at our house (she stopped here for a couple of days on her way back home) and she only went home with two boxes full (which is still too many, IMO, but it's better than an additional six), but she also came back with an old lamp and a jewelry armoire. We asked why she brought them back, since she has too many lamps as it is, and already has a jewelry armoire that she doesn't use (and neither of these things were anything special/valuable/anything like that) and she said, "they were going to throw it away, and IT WAS MY MOTHER'S!" And that's about how every conversation about any of this stuff ends, with her screaming - it was her mother's, it was her father's, it was her husband's, she picked it out with her husband, or her husband gave it to her.
We realize that it's her house, and if she wants to live with so much furniture (most of this stuff is furniture, except for things like the lighthouses) that that's her business, but she's going to get all of this stuff to her new home and it isn't going to fit, and we're going to end up being the ones that have to deal with it - she's already tried to weasel her way into using our garage as her own personal storage unit. (And yes, every time she mentions it, we flat out tell her no.) Plus, she wants to babysit our small children (oldest is 6) overnight from time to time so we can have time to ourselves, but if she refuses to get rid of the stuff that doesn't fit, there will be no sleepovers.
She refuses to see a therapist (which we gently suggested, because there is obviously something psychological going on), and nothing we say or do is working. We blew up a copy of the floor plan of her new home and had her draw in where all of the stuff is going to go, thinking she needed a visual of it, and that got her to say that she'd get rid of some stuff, but nothing that previously belonged to anyone else, God forbid, and that is 90% of her "big" stuff, so her new home will have every inch of wall space with a piece of furniture on it, pretty much the way it is now. (We even joked that she shouldn't waste her time picking out paint for the walls, since nobody will be able to see them past the curio cabinets and bookshelves and desks and whatnot.
We've tried googling stuff, but it seems every answer either goes to extreme hoarder (and she watches "Hoarders" and is convinced that because her house isn't dirty and loaded with TRASH, that she's not a hoarder) or just random clutter, and I can't find resources on how to approach an emotional attachment to so much random stuff.
Is there a trick to getting her to lose the bizarre emotional THING that she has with everything that any of her deceased relatives has ever touched? I'll take ANY idea at this point! Or is it just a lost cause that we need to try to let go of on our end, and let her figure it out once she moves and realizes that she can't fit all of her stuff into her house? We're trying to be HELPFUL, so it doesn't get to that point (because she has to pay to get it all down here, and then have to get rid of it), but she just sees it as us nagging and/or being mean.