Remember when everyone was Konmari-ing their clutter? Ah, those lovely, innocent days. This year’s cleaning trend has taken a much more macabre turn. Leave it to the Swedes to devise a decluttering method that also makes you consider the fugacity of life. Swedish Death Cleaning is the process of getting rid of your excess stuff to make it easier for your children after you die. As morbid as this sounds, it is super practical.
I can’t tell you how many people I know who have lost their parents, and then had to sort through decades of clutter. In the midst of one’s grief, this is a daunting task. Plus, to have to decide to keep or toss your parents’ beloved things is painful in itself. I know a lady who has kept her late mother’s home completely untouched for years, because she just can’t face 2,500 square feet of things.
So, what is the process of Swedish Death Cleaning? Glad you asked!
Start at about 65 Years Old
Margareta Magnusson, author of the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, set to come out in January, says that although you can declutter at any time, death cleaning should begin around 65. It seems early, but it’s not a quick and dirty process. You want to be contemplative and calm.
Don’t Start with Sentimental Things
If you begin with a huge box of photographs, for example, you will get bogged down. Instead, start with the easy stuff. Old paperwork, broken or damaged furniture, etc.
Give Away the Good Stuff
If there is something that you don’t want that’s too nice to toss, give it away. Choosing its recipient now will be so much easier than putting it in your will.
Keep a Box of Your Memories
If you have special things that are meaningful to you, but nobody else, save them in a box and label it to be tossed after you die. Man, those Swedes are awfully matter-of-fact about death, aren’t they??
Want to see death cleaning in action? Check out this video of Magnusson and her daughter cleaning out a storage locker together.