Death Cleaning

Death cleaning. It’s the thoughtful thing to do.

A close friend who loves to chat about my decluttering business, asked if I’d heard about the latest craze in Sweden as described in the book, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your Own Life More Pleasant” by Margareta Magnusson.

The idea of death cleaning is nothing new and certainly not unique to the land of Abba, Ikea, and meatballs. It is, quite simply, decluttering your life before you die, to protect those you leave behind from the burdensome task.

While I have not read Magnusson’s book, I have viewed her YouTube video. In spite of the unsettling term ‘death cleaning’, Magnusson’s video is hysterically funny. She gives her age as “somewhere between 80 to 100” and declares her mission as: helping family and friends get rid of their stuff so their kids don’t eventually have to.

While our personal styles differ – in her video the hornery Magnusson, overwhelmed by a stuffed, piled-high storage unit, confronts its aging owner with, “What are you going to do with all of this crap?” – I’m inclined to be a bit more tactful.

But, styles aside, we both encourage clients to declutter and decide: what goes, where it goes, and when it goes, while you’re still in charge of your life and your stuff.

A client I’m working with, now past middle age, has started death cleaning. She doesn’t call it that of course. She doesn’t even know the term. And there’s nothing sad or morose about it.

She’s just doing what she feels is her responsibility, not her childrens’. “It’s not fair to them to have to go through my things,” she said, delighted with herself, and proving Magnusson right.

By death cleaning, my client is making her loved ones’ lives easier and her own life more pleasant. A lesson here for all of us.