Swedish death cleaning? WHAT is that?! That’s what I said to myself when I stumbled upon an article and several YouTube videos about this new way to declutter. It looked fascinating and a bit terrifying. I’ve moved from a 1400 sq. ft. home to 3820 sq. ft. – I’ve got some “stuff”. Then there are the barns… we won’t even go there.
Author Margareta Magnussen rocked the world of nearly everyone with “stuff”, collectors and hoarders, with her book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter. Döstädning, death cleaning in Swedish, is a new minimalism phenomenon sweeping the world.
This simple art of cleaning and decluttering your home BEFORE you die has some folks “on their ear”. I was so fascinated by it, I decided to try it myself. The concept is simple, you sort through your belongings and rid yourself of clutter and unwanted items. According to Margareta, we all have:
- Hoarding instinct- kitchens and kids means multiples of things
- Cluttering instinct- the habit of our abundance, we like choices
- We Fear Death- emotional about our items, want things to live on
We also have a tendency to place emotions on things, creating angst at the thought that an item may mean something to someone else when in reality it probably doesn’t. I am going to link you to a YouTube video here of Margareta Magnussen in an interview talking about her own personal Swedish death cleaning.
What are you going to do with all this crap?
I believe Margareta would be in total agreement with me when I say that Swedish death cleaning is ongoing. You never stop sorting through things. Not only should you begin with this new state of mind, but one would hope this would become a constant; challenging every purchase before you make it.
Some thoughts to query as you clean and go forward living:
- Do I really NEED this item?
- Will, what items I currently possess give someone else happiness?
- Are there items that I have that have emotional ties for me? Death or trauma can make parting with the object hard, so give yourself time to think and revisit the item. Sometimes items have very unhealthy emotions attached to them and therefore you need to get rid of them.
- What is this item currently doing for function in my life?
Traumatic events make parting with things hard
I believe my husband was well aware of my collecting capabilities when we moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota. I bawled while packing up our things in Wisconsin and was so torn by throwing anything away, or giving away items, that he gracefully told me to pack it all and I could think more about my stuff once we settled in Minnesota.
Packing and moving to Minnesota was certainly hard to do, but I was really challenged by sorting through and packing up my mom’s stuff after she had left for the nursing home- that was very hard. I discovered I had a great deal of emotion and memories tied up in the “stuff” of my childhood home.
You can do this!
Once again, as I sorted and looked at “stuff”, it became overwhelming. I knew I couldn’t keep it all. What I felt a tie to I kept and loaded onto the U-Haul trailer. What I didn’t, got placed in the thrift store box or the “burn pile”. Once we got home, we unpacked everything into the garage to sort through when I was feeling better. It took about a month, but I finally came to peace with what I needed to do and I began to sort through, keep or give to the thrift store and even gave away some nice items to close friends.
I recently Swedish death cleaned my home and I was very happy with the results. The thought that I have streamlined my home and made the process, upon my death, of cleaning up a quick one, makes me very happy and content. I certainly don’t want to burden my husband and family with the arduous task of figuring out what to do with my “stuff”. By all means, if I have left something to my friends and family that they do not want they have my permission to get rid of it!
Here is hoping you do some Swedish death cleaning of your own. Till next time, here is to good food, good friends and a very neat, clean and uncluttered good life!
Michele Bruxvoort is sure to draw you in with her delightful sense of humor and love for living life. She enjoys reading, repurposing, as well as remodeling the family home with her husband. Drawing from her life experience as wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, Michele brings you a very honest and real perspective on life. When you don’t find her writing, you can find her mowing lawns, stocking shelves, taking care of her grandbaby and tackling her latest life adventure.
Wisconsin native and empty-nester, she now makes her home with her husband of 27 years in the South West Prairie plains of Minnesota.