The Gentle Art of Swedish “Death Cleaning”

The Gentle Art of Swedish “Death Cleaning”

You can’t take it with you, so what is going to happen to all your stuff when you die? Your poor kids are probably going to have to go through it all. Margareta Magnusson says that’s not fair.

Magnusson, author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your Own Life More Pleasant, describes the process of decluttering before you die “dostadning,” or “death cleaning”,  meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” There are no strict rules like those of organizing guru Mari Kondo, which include how to fold and place t-shirts in drawers.

Here are a few of Magnusson’s tips:

  1. Don’t start with your photos – you will get stuck in your memories and not accomplish much.
  2. Keep a book of passwords for your family.
  3. Give away nice things you don’t want (china, silver, books, etc.) as gifts.
  4. Keep a box of things that matter only to you, and label it to be thrown away upon your death.

Magnusson suggests that age 65 is a good time to start removing unnecessary things and getting your home in order. However, she suggests “death cleaning” principles can be freeing at any age.

pile of laundryMagnusson suggests that age 65 is a good time to start removing unnecessary things and getting your home in order. However, she suggests “death cleaning” principles can be freed at any age.

Magnusson’s main message is taking responsibility for your possessions and not leaving them as a burden for your family and friends. It’s not fair to them.

The concept of decluttering before you die is part of Swedish culture, just like living independently and never being a burden to anyone. How you keep your home is a statement of that. Death cleaning is not a sad process, but one of relief. “You are never really finished with your death cleaning because you don’t know when you are going to die,” Magnusson says. “So it goes on and on.”

 

 

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