‘What is Swedish Death Cleaning? And why are you doing it so early on in life?’ These are questions I get asked pretty often, so I thought it would be a good idea to address it here.
While the name might sound morbid, it really isn’t at all and can help your family members after you’re gone and lighten their burden during an already difficult time.
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After reading the book ‘The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How To Free Yourself And Your Family From A Lifetime Of Clutter‘ by Margareta Magnusson I decided that now was the time to start decluttering the things I didn’t need and that my family and friends also wouldn’t need or want once I was gone either.
What is Swedish Death Cleaning
For those of you who don’t know what Swedish Death Cleaning (aka “skånsk dödsstädning” in Swedish) is, it’s the practice of clearing out your home before you die.
The philosophy behind this is that your family will receive the inheritance you leave them in a better condition than if they would have had to clear out your home after you’re gone, so it’s simply about leaving things tidy.
So instead of putting all those extra hours into reading through piles and piles of papers, books, clothes and everything else we accumulate over time, Swedish Death Cleaning is simply about sorting through it quicker by getting rid of things ahead of time – while we’re still alive.
Swedish Death Cleaning also leaves your descendants free from having to make hard choices about what to keep and what to throw away after you’ve passed away. It also gives them peace of mind as they don’t have to wonder which items are important since all of it is sorted through.
A lot of people might think that Swedish Death Cleaning sounds morbid, but I feel it’s quite the opposite. You’re not preparing for your death, or waiting for it. You’re getting rid of the junk and clutter you don’t use or love, things that your family won’t need or want. By doing this process while still alive, they will receive legacies in good order instead.
Swedish death cleaning is a philosophy about handling the end of life which was originally developed by Margareta Magnusson based on her own experiences when cleaning out her parents’ homes.
She believes that Swedish Death Cleaning is a way of approaching death that can ease you into it and considerably lighten the load for your family members when it’s time for them to handle the task
The book contains information on how to arrange things so your loved ones don’t have to spend an eternity in front of piles and piles of papers sorting through them once you’re gone or helping you handle other tasks which need to be done before they are left behind. It also gives suggestions on what items should be saved and what should be thrown away/donated – based on if no one will use/need it after you’ve passed away, instead of having people make hard choices after your death.
Why I’m Swedish Death Cleaning
Have you ever had to go through a loved one’s belongings after they had passed? If so, you might understand why I’m choosing to tidy up in advance.
Trying to sort through a loved one’s things after they’re gone is extremely difficult and brings up emotions that are difficult to deal with. Add into the mix the grief you’re also dealing with.
So I want to make that whole process as easy as possible for those who have to do it for me.
I’m still young (ish!) and have the energy to declutter things that I don’t need to keep anymore. I fear that when I’m in my 60s or 70s, even though I may still have many years left, I won’t have the energy or stamina to be able to do it. Or will I even have the desire?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not tossing everything I own and living on the bare essentials just so my loved ones will have nothing to clear out once I leave this earth! No! I’m still keeping everything I love, everything I need and have a use for.
I’m just being more mindful of ‘things’ and not keeping things that I will store away forever only to have someone else clear it out later. I’m also making sure that important documents are in one place and non important documents are either shredded or kept digitally.
While it may seem daunting going through all your things now, can you imagine how much more you will accumulate throughout the rest of your life that your family or friends will have to go through after you pass?
My thinking is if I do this now, and adopt the ‘one in, one out’ rule, I won’t have to do it again when I’m older and my family won’t be stuck with much to do either.
So this is why I’ve decided to start Swedish Death Cleaning while I’m still in my 30s, and why I truly believe we should all be mindful of starting it early too.
Swedish Death Cleaning was just a natural thing for me to do. Rather than waiting until the last moments (when we are too ill or frail to handle it by ourselves), why not get rid of stuff you have no need for before your time is up? Why not pass on your legacy with good order instead of having family members spend who knows how much time sorting through it all while grieving?
Please remember: Swedish Death Cleaning is not meant to be sad. We all know that someday we will die. So why not be prepared now so that you can spend the rest of your long life enjoying everything there is to enjoy!
What are your thoughts on Swedish Death Cleaning? Is this something you think you would give a go? Let me know in the comments below.