The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnussun
Updated: May 12
In Sweden, there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” Margareta Magnussun, who wrote The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning when she was somewhere between eighty and one hundred years of age, has had to death clean four times. Three times were for family. The fourth time was for herself as she downsized her home after the death of her husband. She presents the concept that it is better to simplify your life, whether you are eighty or fifty, and it is better to leave your loved ones with possessions you no longer need or want but they will love, rather than make your loved ones clean out your life and have to deal with all your stuff when they should be dealing with other issues. Swedish death cleaning is the loving thing to do.
Ms. Magnussun’s style is less writerly and definitely no-nonsense, but full of insight, humor, and wisdom as she provides sensible directions and generational concepts that may differ from those of a younger generation. She stresses the importance of taking your time as you review each item and decide if it should be given away, sold, or kept. This order allows the cleaner to embrace the memories associated with the object with a heart full of joy and let the object go to provide a stress-free, easy to clean, minimalist lifestyle. Go through the photos last.
Death cleaning is not a sad affair. It’s a new-found act of freedom.