This new decluttering trend may be a little morbid but handy
‘Swedish death cleaning’ will encourage you to live neatly
Oct 10, 2017
My parents aren’t big hoarders. They have their own little troves, sure, but they aren’t burdensome—my mom collects thick chocolate wrappers aside from jewelry and my dad still has his tall collection of CDs.
My stuff and some of my brothers’, on the other hand, are a different story.
Thanks to the internet, I have found another decluttering method (its novelty excites me). It’s called the “Swedish death cleaning.”
This cleaning strategy was developed by Sweden-born artist Margareta Magnusson. She has a book about it entitled “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter” which was published just earlier this month. It introduces what the Swedes call döstädning—“an approach to putting your life in order so your loved ones won’t have to,” or literally death cleaning.
Because when you die, you leave stuff behind. And your family would have to deal with them.
This concept came to her mind when she had to downsize her home following her husband’s death. She has also moved houses 17 times in her lifetime (she says she’s between 80 and 100), so she damn well knows what to keep and what not to.
“Death cleaning is not about dusting or mopping up,” says Magnusson. “It is about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly.”
So how do you do it?
“If you don’t love it, lose it. If you don’t use it, lose it.”
That’s what we’re supposed to really do anyway, except we try our hardest to associate every thing with every memory we think is important. We try to rationalize the things we hoard thinking they’d be useful someday when it has been years since, say, I last touched my Spanish coursebooks which I used in college.
This also includes heirloom pieces which could be tricky to sort.
“Don’t forget yourself.”
Magnusson writes that after every successful decluttering, treat yourself with something you enjoy. See a movie or a concert. Hang out with your friends. Go out of town.
Although Swedes actually start this process in their ’50s, slowly but steadily decluttering as years go by, it’s not bad if we start this today. As Magnusson says, “I don’t think you need to start death cleaning at 40, but you need to start thinking about your habits of collecting and you should definitely start getting organized.”
Header image courtesy of Unsplash.com
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