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  • Writer's pictureLauren Hass

All about Döstädning, or Swedish Death Cleaning

In "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter," Margareta Magnusson urges us to “slowly begin decluttering so your death isn’t such a burden for those you leave behind.” She stresses that whether or not you have children "you still have a duty to sort out your life."

The Swedish idea of döstädning, or death cleaning, comes from the Swedish words dö (death) and städning (cleaning). While the word itself may seem morbid, the concept is completely aligned with the importance of decluttering. The word is used for when someone “does a good, thorough cleaning and gets rid of things to make life easier or less crowded."

While you will reap the benefits from a less cluttered space (read the benefits of decluttering here), your family will benefit as well.

To undertake Swedish death cleaning, ask yourself these motivating questions:

1. “Will anyone be happier if I save this?” While you may have kept a memento from a vacation, will your children benefit from the fact that you’ve kept it?

2. Do you want to burden your children with the time and financial costs associated with the movers, junk haulers or estate sale professionals who will be needed to empty out your home?

3. Have you dealt with the reality that your children likely don’t want your stuff?

My clients who are charged with cleaning out their parents' homes after their passing are grieving, feel overwhelmed, and find that there's SO much stuff.

You are not your stuff, and your children know that.

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