Marie Kondo told us to discard anything that didn’t spark joy when we touched it. She taught us about tidying, folding and being grateful for what we have, but encouraged us to throw things away that no longer made us feel good. It’s this kind of anti-hoarding attitude that drives the latest decluttering trend: Swedish death cleaning.
The term comes from the Swedish döstädning and is a method that focuses on clearing out your belongings in preparation for your death, with the goal being to take the burden away from family and friends. Look at everything you own and ask yourself whether it would make a nice keepsake for family and friends, or whether it will be another thing for them to have to get rid of once you’ve passed away. Unless it will bring some kind of joy- much like Marie Kondo’s approach- to your loved ones, chuck it.
Granted, the idea of pre-empting death may seem morbid but Margareta Magnusson, who coined the term in her book the Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, wrote about her own experiences with the deaths of her husband and mother and affirms that Swedish death cleaning is an effective way of relieving emotional stress on those left behind.
Marie Kondo is known for the KonMari method
She adds that the process isn’t intended to draw attention to death, but to celebrate life. “Death cleaning isn’t the story of death and its slow, ungainly inevitability,” she writes. “But rather the story of life, your life, the good memories and the bad. The good ones you keep. The bad you expunge.” Like Marie Kondo promotes self-love, Margareta and Swedish death cleaning promote love to others which, in turn, will make you feel good about yourself. Going through old belongings may also trigger good memories, while we are strong advocates of the “tidy house, tidy mind” notion.
And it seems like we aren't alone. Recent research by Spaceslide found that just 13% of millenials and 25% of over 55s said they didn't like getting rid of their belongings, with only 23% refusing to get rid of sentimental items.
Margareta concludes, “A loved one wishes to inherit nice things from you. Not all things from you.”
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