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My Swedish Death Cleaning Project

Minimalism is catching on, and I'm excited about streamlining. I'm sharing what I've learned about decluttering and simplifying our lives.

Not Morbid, Just Planning Ahead

It might be 20 or 30 years away, but eventually, it will happen. Maybe it is just weeks away. Who knows?

It might be 20 or 30 years away, but eventually, it will happen. Maybe it is just weeks away. Who knows?

The thought of someone having to sort out all my possessions after my funeral is an unsettling concept. That started me investigating the Swedish Death Cleaning to see what it was, how it worked, and how could I apply it to my life.

Like most Americans, I've accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. Too much stuff becomes oppressive and burdensome to take care of it. I'd dabbled for a few years at minimizing my belongings but hadn't gotten really serious about it. Like most Baby Boomers, the advice and examples of my Great Depression era parents shaped my thinking. "Save it," they would say, "you might need it later."

Now, as the Boomer generation deals with dispersing their parents' possessions, we become painfully aware that someday someone will have to deal with all our stuff. Our treasures are not likely to be treasured by our children. Instead, much of it will get sent to Goodwill or tossed into a dumpster.

Are You Trying Swedish Death Cleaning?

Imagining Someone Clearing Out My Household

I wrote this little essay to get my thinking shifted to the right mindset.

"If only I'd known that life would end so abruptly, I'd have tidied up my underwear drawer. Sigh, we always think we have more time.

What will happen to my treasured books? These favorites, accumulated over a lifetime of being a book lover, will get boxed up and sent to the public library book sale.

My closet will be easy. Just pack all the golf shirts, the shorts, shoes, and dresses into bags or boxes for the Salvation Army to pick up.

It feels strange to think of all my personal things being handled by others and taken away in boxes."

Do You Take Your Stuff for Granted?

When we had the interior painted, lots of things were stuffed into one room. That makes me realize how much we really have.

When we had the interior painted, lots of things were stuffed into one room. That makes me realize how much we really have.

my-swedish-death-cleaning-project

Where Do I Start?

Each person must make their own judgment over what is essential to your daily life and happiness. That means making decisions about what no longer serves you well, what no longer is meaningful to you. What are you keeping just out of habit?

For me, I've started a list of things to move along to others in the family or to a charity.

  • Get rid of broken things that I never seem to get around to having fixed (the extra vacuum cleaner, the broken jewelry, the bicycle that needs new tires)
  • Look through photo frames in the garage storage. Offer the ones made by family members to cousins and donate the rest to goodwill.
  • List my decorative tin collection (in my closet) for sale or free to other collectors. Keep for now the special ones that I display.
  • List small advertising tins for sale. These have sat in a box for years now.
  • List dollhouse furniture for sale. Sigh, I never did get that dollhouse.
  • Take quilts to the quilt shop to sell. Keep my grandmother's quilt for a family member.
  • Give gardening books to the garden club in our community.
  • Sort the fabric stash, save some for making doll clothes, and give the rest to the quilt club. I really not going to make a quilt at this time.
  • Let go of the previous years' worth of magazines. If we didn't have time to read them when they came, it is unlikely that we'll want to read them now that they have aged a few years.

Out With the Back Issues of Magazine

We are very unlikely to go back and read these saved magazines. Look at the shelf space they are taking.

We are very unlikely to go back and read these saved magazines. Look at the shelf space they are taking.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Virginia Allain

Comments

Liz Westwood from UK on June 25, 2019:

This is a very timely and useful article. Only this morning a friend and I were bemoaning the clutter in our houses. Your tips make great sense.

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