Swedish Death Cleaning is a new way of decluttering that is gaining popularity. It will change how you look at your stuff and declutter. To help you with this Coupons.com has sponsored this post.
Swedish Death Cleaning may not sound as happy as keeping things that “spark joy” but this new decluttering craze may be more your style and is possibly even more important.
My family is very sentimental and holds on to a lot of things. It’s nice to have heirlooms that are passed down through the family but it can also get quickly out of hand.
Want to know a little secret? I still own most of my childhood stuff. It’s at my parent’s house, it occasionally haunts me because I know I need to deal with it. (Sorry, mom!)
Marie Kondo’s method really doesn’t appeal to me. The idea of taking out all my stuff basically at once is overwhelming and anxiety-inducing.
And what if everything sparks joy? I don’t quite mean everything, I’m not a hoarder but I do find joy in a lot of things because I attach memories to those things.
What is Swedish Death Cleaning?
Swedish Death Cleaning comes from the Swedish word- döstädning. Do is death and stadning is cleaning.
It means to remove unnecessary things and make your home nice and orderly when you think the time is coming closer for you to leave the planet.
The truth is we all have people in our lives that have a lot of stuff and if that stuff isn’t dealt with before their passing we will have to. That’s an overwhelming task to take on when you are dealing with a great loss.
I think of my great-grandma who passed away several years ago. She had a very modest home and had left notes on many of her items with where she wanted them to go. I’m sure this made cleaning out her home much easier for all involved.
This is the basic idea behind Swedish death cleaning, dealing with your things before you pass away so your family doesn’t have the burden of doing it.
In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Margareta Magnusson, a Scandinavian grandma walks us through what Swedish Death Cleaning is and why we need to do it.
She also touches on our fear of death is one of the reasons we hold on to so much and how we can embrace that we will one day die and the fact that we can’t take all of this stuff with us when we do.
How to Practice Swedish Death Cleaning
Unlike many decluttering methods this isn’t a method you do once and you are done. This is more of a lifestyle and mindset shift.
While Magnusson talks about it in terms of older people not burdening their children with their belongings when they have passed, this is really something people at any age can do.
Practicing Swedish Death Cleaning boils down to one thing-
“Will anyone I know, be happier if I save this?”
This question is so simple but very profound. I’ve heard so many older people talk about saving things because someone else may want it, but will they? The answer is often no.
Free Swedish Death Cleaning Checklist
If you want to stay on track with Swedish Death Cleaning it’s a good idea to have a running checklist. You can use this free printable to create one with all the things you want to do and it’s organized by room.
Easy Steps for Swedish Death Cleaning
- Tell people you are doing it. This is a suggestion given in the book. It gives people the chance to ask for things they want. We also know this can help with accountability.
- Divide things into categories. Categories vary from person to person. Decide what categories make sense for you.
- Start with easier things. Don’t start with any category that holds a lot of sentimental things. You don’t want to get bogged down by memories or give up because it’s too hard before you even get started.
- Get help when needed. If you are struggling with what to do with some items ask a friend, someone that doesn’t hold any sentimental feelings about the items, to help.
- Don’t start with photographs, letters, or personal papers. These items can be both fun and sad and often get you stuck on memory lane. They can also be tough to get rid of.
- Don’t assume others want your stuff. Giving your stuff to someone that doesn’t want it or have space for it only moves your burden to them. Try to only ask if you truly think the item fits the recipient’s taste and home. It can be hard for people to say no.
- Don’t hold onto things just because they were gifts. There is a great quote about this in the book, “gratitude is not connected to the thing itself but to the giver who gave it to you.”
- Be honest. If someone offers you something because they are reducing their possessions be honest if you don’t want it. Moving things to another home that doesn’t want it doesn’t help anyone.
- Have a throw-away box. There are personal items we want to keep but would rather family didn’t see later or just know they will hold no value to them. Things like personal letters. Magnusson’s suggestion is to have a throw-away box. This box is labeled to be thrown away. The family may look at it but they will know that they don’t need to and that your wishes are for it to be tossed.
One thing talked about often in the book is about offering your things to people that can really enjoy them.
She suggests having a young couple just starting out, come over and take things they need. Or when her husband passed away and she and her kids had taken the tools they wanted she let the neighbors come over and take what they wanted.
She encourages us to think of the new home in which your object will find itself. Think of the new memories it will help create for someone else.
The idea of decluttering while thinking about what you want to leave behind is not always easy but it can be powerful.
Even though I’m young I want to start thinking about this mindset and this way of decluttering. And something that really stuck with me from the book.
You can enjoy all these things without owning them.
Wow! It’s so true. Seeing something beautiful in a shop can be valuable to your life if you let it be, you don’t have to own that item.
We go to museums and admire the art without thinking we need to own it. We can do the same in our everyday life.
More Decluttering Resources
Since Swedish Death Cleaning is really more of a mindset and lifestyle than decluttering method it’s still good to get more information about ways to be organized and declutter.
Just remember the lessons you learned here. We can lessen the burden we leave behind and also enjoy our own lives more with less stuff.