10 Things to Know About Swedish Death Cleaning
Yes, the name Swedish Death Cleaning is off-putting but it's kind of meant to jar you into action to decrease the burden on your family. Find out what you need to know about Swedish Death Cleaning.
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What is Swedish Death Cleaning?
The name “Swedish Death Cleaning” gets a lot of attention for good reason but once you learn about it, it’s a pretty sensible, practical way to deal with your possessions as you approach your later years. It’s based on a book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson. It’s set to be released in January but it’s already generating a lot of buzz. Magnusson, an artist, embarked on the book after dealing with the deaths of her parents and husband and tried to figure out what to do with their possessions. Magnusson, a Swede, writes about the Swedish idea of döstädning, which translates to death cleaning. Dö means death in Swedish and städning means cleaning. The thrust of the book is to slowly begin decluttering so your death isn’t such a burden for those you leave behind. It's similar to other trendy thoughts on home organization and approaches to life, like hygge, which caught on last year.
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What to Hold on to
You've kept certain items around the house as a reminder of an experience but you don't need to have the object to trigger a memory. Your mind still holds onto the trip or special day you had that led you to keep a souvenir. Take a look in kitchen cabinets and make a note of how many plates and glasses you keep. Chances are you don't need them all.
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Things to Document
An important piece to Swedish Death Cleaning is involving others. This is helpful for a couple of reasons. For one, it will help keep you accountable if you tell others of your plan. It also becomes a good time to share with your family your wishes after you pass. It’s during this process that you begin putting together a document that holds any login and password information for any financial institutions or other relevant information that’s going to be tough to find after your death. Make sure your remaining items are packed and stored properly.
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Where to Start
Magnusson says to stay away from photographs as the first entry point into Swedish Death Cleaning. Instead, try to start in the closet where you’re sure to find items you no longer wear and things that just don’t fit anymore.
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How to Give Things Away
Hannah-Rose Yee wrote about Swedish Death Cleaning and tried it herself. It wasn’t as easy as she thought it’d be to give away some of her things. A friend wouldn’t accept a scarf and Yee wanted books she’d given away back within a couple of days. To avoid that problem, Magnusson suggestions bring your things to friends and family as presents. Instead of a bouquet of flowers, give your friend whatever item of yours they’ve long admired. Get yourself started by cutting clutter.
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When to Start
Magnusson urges those 65 and older to start the process of shedding possessions. You can start by selling some of those items first. Yee sold a number her old things and earned around $500, she said. Once you get started, the purge becomes easier. Check out some of these ideas for kitchen storage that you can use to free up space.
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Make it Last
Taking a new approach to something is never easy. It takes on average two months form a new habit. So, along the way of Swedish Death Cleaning, Magnusson says it’s alright to reward yourself. But reward yourself in a new way as well. Go see a movie or grab a cupcake, just don’t buy a bunch of new stuff. If your home office is out of control unorganized, try out these home office organization solutions.
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Will Anyone be Happier if I Save This?
That note your crush passed you in middle school isn’t going to mean anything to anyone other than you. One of the important questions Magnusson poses in her book is: Will anyone be happier if I save this? It's a good way to frame the inner monologue debate that will go on in your mind as you start to declutter. These easy storage ideas will help you find a spot for the things you want to keep.
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Nobody Wants Your Stuff
The Christian Science Monitor reported in July that children of baby boomers aren’t itching to take possession of their parents’ home furnishings. In fact, they’d rather not. It’s not only that children don’t want their parents’ possessions, it’s that there’s not a market for that old mahogany furniture pieces. The price of mahogany furniture has dropped considerably in the past few years as people have started to favor Mid-Century Modern designs and cheaper furniture from IKEA. Make your furniture last longer while you've got it with these tips.
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Being a Pack Rat has a Financial Burden
In a Forbes story, Richard Eisenberg had to unload an apartment full of his father’s possessions after he died in order to avoid paying an extra month of rent. Eisenberg pointed out there are liquidators who specialize in cleaning out estates. There are even move managers for seniors who downsize from their homes to a smaller condo. Some senior move managers charge between $2,500 to $3,000 and others will sell items at estate sales. They’ll take a cut of the proceeds of the estate sale, usually around 35 percent or so. Do some downsizing with these 12 tips.
Originally Published: March 20, 2021