If you’re like us, you’re probably thinking ‘What in the world is a Swedish death cleaning?’ We promise it isn’t as morbid as it sounds.
In plain terms, the method uncovered in the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson, refers to a delicate, long-game process of slowly ridding your life of clutter over time.
This literal foreign concept from Sweden, may be a figurative foreign conceptfor Americans who are used to the annual, go-big-or-go-home spring cleaning and declutter process.
But for growing families, it seems the need to unburden life of all the extra stuff is a daily struggle, not a yearly one.
If you think Swedish death cleaning might be for you, here are some things to consider before you get started.
History and Namesake
The concept behind Swedish death cleaning is steeped in tradition. The name dostadning is a Swedish word that combines words meaning ‘death’ and ‘cleaning’. So here’s where the death part comes in.
Dostadning is something that Swedes take on in the middle of their lives. It’s a process by which you let go of anything and everything that doesn’t offer that quintessential spark of joy and happiness.
The idea is that if it isn’t useful or bringing you happiness, you need to let it go before your die. It helps folks who are in the second act of life come to terms with their own mortality through acts of mindfulness, which in this case is the process of organizing and decluttering.
But it also solves a problem that all of us face when loved ones pass away, what do with all of that stuff?
The author of the book on Swedish death cleaning asserts that people who leave a mess of clutter for their loved ones to clean after they pass away are the same who don’t fully grasp their own mortality.
Benefits of Swedish Death Cleaning
In addition to being a thoughtful way to say goodbye to friends in family in your last act of life, Swedish death cleaning offers a number of holistic health perks that any person of any age can benefit from. These include:
- Mindfulness training
- Less overwhelm; and
- A boost in overall happiness
No one wants to think about the end of life, especially near the middle of it when adults feel like they are hitting their prime. But Swedish death cleaning uses the mindfulness involved in the gentle process to help adults cope with their own ideas of death.
Having a cluttered home is really overwhelming. That’s especially true of 1 in 5 adults who live with mental illness and may be more sensitive to their surroundings. Creating a peaceful, serene space goes hand-in-hand with creating an organized one.
Having less overwhelm means increasing your mindshare of other things, like spending time with your family, friends and loved ones.
It’s believed that all of this leads to a boost in overall happiness and less stress for many people who opt-in to Swedish death cleaning.
How to Declutter
Swedish death cleaning can be started at any time in a person’s life, but it’s recommended that those 65 years old or older start. Follow these steps to embark on your Swedish death cleaning journey:
- Identify items that have outworn their useful life
- Ask yourself the question: Is this useful? Is it purposeful?
- Determine whether items can be recycled, donated or sold before throwing away
- Think about ways to reward yourself without shopping for new items that clutter
- Keep your clutter to a minimum with small lifestyle changes
Continue this cycle of purging items over the years as you age. Maintain a gradual year-over-year reduction of clutter in your home while achieving greater mindfulness, better habits and overall happiness.
Other Clutter Considerations
It’s worth noting that Swedish death cleaning isn’t an individual process, it’s a whole family one. These cleanings should be things that bring people together with a goal of helping one another live a better life.
As part of this process, cleaners are also encouraged to declutter their digital lives. This means preparing important documents for loved ones, including any passwords needed for personal accounts, review app permissions, look for space-eating files on your hard drive and more.
For more information on how to digitally declutter, click here.
Are You an Organizer?
Generally, there are two types of parents — those who organize and those who don’t. If you’re not the naturally organized type, a Swedish death cleaning could be a good choice for you. Recruit a loved one to help you start the process and begin on a mindfulness journey together.
For more information on things like Swedish death cleaning and other holistic home health topics, follow Sollievo.