There is a new decluttering trend in town and it is kind of awesome in it’s practicality.
Translating to “death cleaning”, dostadning is a practice embedded in Swedish culture which has recently been brought to the attention of the rest of the world by the upcoming release of a book called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.
The basic premise of Swedish death cleaning (yes, the name is a little morbid) is to simplify and organise your life as you head into your golden years. Thus living a less cluttered life and reducing the burden on your family when you pass, as they won’t have to sort out all of your excess stuff.
It is an intentional process whereby you consider the items in your home by whether you use it or love it, much like the KonMari method. However, rather than feeling the pressure to declutter all in one hit, Swedish death cleaning is done over time. People apparently start in their 50’s and 60’s, gradually reducing their possessions and clutter. Passing items on so they can bring new joy to others is also a big part of the ethos.
I must say this really appealed to me. Dealing with clutter is an ongoing battle in my house and it’s a trait I have no doubt inherited.
I’m fairly sentimental, however, one thing I really don’t want to inherit is the job of dealing with other people’s clutter!
A few years ago, we moved my grandparents for the first time in 80 years. Yes, you read that correctly. It was my grandmother’s childhood home. To say the task of downsizing them was mammoth is an understatement. She had piles of papers dating back decades and still had items from when she was a baby, as well as things that were her children’s. She never gets rid of anything.
We sold or dumped a massive amount and family members took some cherished items. However, a lot of excess also ended up in my parents’ garage. Who already have a lot of stuff…
So, not wanting to repeat this trauma, one day I casually mentioned the concept of Swedish death cleaning to my folks.
“Aren’t those Swedes a clever bunch?” They looked at me and laughed.
However, they did recently go buy some new IKEA shelving units to “get organised”. I wonder if this was their token attempt at Swedish death cleaning or if they are just taking the mickey?
Regardless, I think we could all learn a lot from Swedish death cleaning. After all, we can’t take our possessions with us when we go.
Leaving our families with less clutter sounds like a great legacy to me.