Swedish Death Cleaning
Today I want to share about a kind of crazy method for decluttering. The first time I heard about this I thought it sounded a little bit out there, but the more I investigated and learned, the more helpful I found it to be.
It’s called….are you ready for it?….. Swedish Death Cleaning.
You can keep on reading to find out more, or watch the video by clicking on the link below.
Now, I didn’t come up with this. This concept comes from the book called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning I’ve read the book, it’s a super easy read, and I want to share my biggest takeaways with you.
So, what IS Swedish Death Cleaning? In a nutshelll, it’s decluttering in preparation for death. It’s a realization that you won’t be on this earth forever, and when you do pass, you’re going to leave stuff behind. I know at first it sounds a little shocking, but it’s actually a super insightful method of decluttering.
I don’t know about you, but I have seen so many situations where a loved one passes away and in the midst of dealing with the grief and changes that come with death, the family is also left to deal with loads and loads of stuff. It can be a lot of work, there are so many decisions that have to be made, and it can cost money to get rid of all the stuff.
Swedish Death Cleaning thinks ahead and prepares to not leave a house full of stuff behind to be dealt with and sorted through. But, it’s not just a benefit to your loved ones who will come after you, it’s also a benefit to you right now! Because by decluttering now, you get to enjoy living in a decluttered space.
You see, if you have something sitting there that you’re never going to touch and you’re not enjoying, why should you leave it sitting there, cluttering up your space, only to one day pass it on to someone else who is going to have to deal with the hassle of getting rid of it. By going ahead and decluttering that item today, you’re giving yourself and your loved ones more peace of mind.
Swedish Death Cleaning helps you decide what’s truly important for you, and it gives you the opportunity to go ahead and pass things along to loved ones and actually see them enjoy them.
It might seem like this method of cleaning would work better for older people, but it’s great for people of all ages because you want that benefit of getting a less cluttered life now – and that’s something anyone of any age can enjoy!
So, here are my three biggest takeaways from the book:
1. Order Matters
Start with decluttering the easiest item. If you’re not sure where to start, clothes are often a pretty quick win. Seasons of life change, and with it your wardrobe changes. Maybe you used to need a lot of a certain kind of clothing, but now you don’t.
After clothes you may want to move on to bigger items – appliances and furniture. End with sentimental items, because those can be very tricky. This order is very similar to what Marie Kondo recommends in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Lots of experts recommend starting with something easy and saving sentimental items for last, so there really seems to be something to that!
2. Ask the Magic Question
Will keeping this item make anyone happier? If it’s not going to make YOU happier, and it’s not going to make someone else happier, then it’s not worth keeping. I love to ask myself this question with the flood of artwork I get from my children on a daily basis. It’s so sweet to watch them create things, and I’m tempted to keep all of it. But, realistically, my children do not want me to pass on twelve 20-pound totes of artwork when they move out. Putting it in perspective helps me pair down to a small collection that can actually be enjoyed.
3. Involve Others in your Decluttering Process
If you think someone you know might enjoy something, just ask them! And don’t be afraid of them saying no. It’s possible a loved one has admired your china doll collection, but they don’t actually want to have the whole collection for themselves. Maybe they’d enjoy having just one doll to proudly display. But, by asking loved ones now what they might like to have and enjoy, you get to clear our clutter and watch your loved ones enjoy your long-treasured possessions.
Swedish Death Cleaning is a process of going through each item in your home and deciding what you ultimately want to have happen to it, and, when you think of it like that, it’s easier to part with things.
I hope this has helped to give you a fresh perspective on decluttering, and if you need even more help, you can sign up for my free ec-ourse Get Organized Once and For All.
Marcia Starr Says
Absolutely love this. Will look at “things” in my home differently.
Kathy Ekstrom Says
I have been married for 42 years and so have accumulated lots of “stuff”. We have been in current house for 22 years and it’s very large with lots of storage. You can probably finish the story from here. We are remodeling and everything had to come out of every room and so it gave me the chance to clean out. What a relief to see the new rooms and have them clean and uncluttered. I came to realize that so much of the stuff I was holding on to was either sentimental or something that I bought at a weak moment and regretted it later. (Strange, huh?)
Anyway, if you haven’t done this yet, start right away. You will feel so much better when you finish.
Stacey Posey Says
Long time fan of your blog, Laura:) As usual, I got another handy, useful tip for organizing from you. I love tip #1. Sometimes I feel like I’m going the easy route by doing what stands out the most (a.k.a. easiest), but now I see that I’m not the only one that benefits from going through the easiest stuff first. Thanks for the inspiration (and affirmation, too!)
K Ann Guinn Says
I love this, and got a lot out of reading that same little book a couple of years ago. I work in a library and the title totally caught my eye. As much as it may sound dark to think about and plan for when we die, it really did give me more motivation for decluttering, beyond the usual thoughts of how I want to feel and function in our home today. It can be a gift to our children and loved ones, and yes, I’ve witnessed the overwhelming chore it can be to have to go through a loved ones’ things, especially if they lived a cluttered life. In the end letting go of too much stuff will definitely bring freedom, enjoyment and less stress to our lives as well!
Another good book I read more recently that I found helpful is Downsizing the Family Home by Marni Jameson. I picked this one out just after my Mom passed away last year and Dad tackling the huge job of downsizing and moving out of their home (500 miles away from most of the family and across a closed Canada-US border). Although it was mostly too late to use much of the oodles of practical information in the book, it also helped me to think about what to save and let go. it is a surprisingly enjoyable read, as the author has a sense of humor that comes through in the writing and dealt with much of the emotional aspect in sorting and parting with the life-long possessions of a loved one.
Thanks for sharing your perspective!
When I read this, it brought back memories from when my mom passed. As adults, we never wandered around her house (being nosy per se). We were so surprised to discovered she had scaled everything down to almost nothing when we entered the house and looked around.
She never wanted to burden us with anything – it was just her way. I guess she felt this was important too. She loved shoes, as example, and had a lot of shoes. When we started clearing out the house, she only had 2-3 pair she wore toward the end, a few clothes left, including a nice dress we assumed she wanted to be buried in.
After reading this, it all made sense after all these years.
Meredith Hudson Says
I recently moved states and did A LOT of purging. I came across a big tub of everything that my kids had ever made and they went through it (they are 36 and 33) and LOVED seeing the things they made. I want to take nice pics of everything and compile it into a book for each of them.
My parents are 94 and 91 and my sister and I are helping them go through dozens of boxes they have accumulated so that we don’t have to do it after they are gone, without their input on what is important to them. It’s the greatest thing!
Debbie Reed Says
I have been doing the Swedish death decluttering for sometime now. I just didn’t know it had a special name. I’m 70 and had to clean out my mother’s hoarder house. My house is nowhere near an overdone house. I imagine everyone has some things they could get rid of and that’s what I’m trying to do. My worst mess is in my garage. I have all kinds of cabinets so you don’t see the clutter but when I open the doors there are things I don’t need and never will. I filled the back of my car
A few days ago and took a trip to the secondhand store. After the first of the year I will start all over again. Thanks for all the encouragement it really helps