The first time I heard the phrase “Swedish Death Cleaning,” I will not deny the initial feeling of reluctance… and intimidation, even. Cleaning, sure–this one I can bat around. But Swedish Death Cleaning?? What in the world is it?!
Well, I know much now and let me tell you–it most certainly is NOT something to be reluctant and intimidated about.
Sure, the term does sound a bit off-putting, but it’s actually a practical way to lessen the many things loved ones have to deal with when a person passes on. Pretty much like estate planning! (Yup–also pretty much why we’re discussing it in today’s blog!)
So, what is Swedish Death Cleaning?
Basically, Swedish Death Cleaning is a decluttering and organizing method carried out in order to reduce the burden of loved ones left after a person’s death. Naturally, when a person dies, it is the family left behind who would have to sort out belongings of their dearly departed. With Swedish Death Cleaning, there’s no need for them to go through all of that–precisely because it has already, and thoughtfully, been done for them.
Given this objective, Swedish Death Cleaning is typically done by older people or those afflicted by some terminal illness. But this doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to consider doing it, though!
In the same way that estate planning is for everyone (not just for the old and wealthy as I have many times iterated!), anyone can also choose to partake in Swedish Death Cleaning, for the simple reason that caring for family and loved ones is not exclusive to specific people. As long as you want the best for them (and as long as you’re ready, of course–there’s a certain level of physical, mental, and emotional preparedness needed for this!), then you are more than welcome to have a go at Swedish Death Cleaning.
How did it start?
Swedish Death Cleaning was conceptualized by Margareta Magnusson, a Sweden-born author who did, in fact, write an entire book on it! Titled The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Magnusson demonstrates how–and why–readers should embrace minimalism, particularly those who have acknowledged their eventual departure from life.
I have yet to read the book myself, but people say it’s both enlightening and amusing, comforting rather than disquieting, uplifting rather than overwhelming–this explains why it’s become an international best-seller!
Any tips and how-tos?
Change your perspective!
For starters, it’s important that you don’t look at it as just a mere end-of-life to-do–it gets grim and morbid that way! While, admittedly, anything that has to do with preparing for death–or death itself–isn’t exactly rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns (hence, physical, mental, and emotional preparedness!), looking at it as an act of kindness–a thoughtful gesture to ease the burden of loved ones later on–makes the process less overwhelming to go through.
Nope, you don’t have to be alone in this! In fact, letting loved ones know about, and actually join you in, the exercise is another way to make it lighter and more endurable. You do not only get to share memories and your wishes with the people you hold dear, but you also get to share the load–literally. Packing and moving years worth of your belongings will fatigue you, for sure. Having people to help you in this physical labor is a smart choice!
Don’t just throw–gift, donate, and sell!
One of the challenges in Swedish Death Cleaning is the part where you will have to throw away items that carry a lot of meaning and value. “These memories aren’t trash,” you'd hear your sentimental self say!
Swedish Death Cleaning doesn’t require you to chuck everything out, though!
Have a loved one who might delight in your pre-loved bags, or your jewelry perhaps? Gift them!
Oooh, unearthed a lovely set of chinaware that’s just been sitting around unused for years? Sell!
Know charity organizations whose beneficiaries would find useful your used-but-not-abused garments? Donate!
Going for these alternatives allows you to minimize waste, declutter with intention, and, well, earn a few extra bucks!
Don’t forget about your electronic-based clutter!
Well, they’re not exactly~clutter~ but you get my drift!
I’m talking about web log-in details, usernames and passwords for online financial accounts, passcodes for your gadgets, and whatnot. No doubt, these are all relevant information but are tough to retrieve when the owner passes on. So while you’re at it with the cleaning and all, make sure to also put together a document that contains all these details.
Pro-tip: Attach those important financial records and other papers, too! Keeping an organized file of these things is a bright idea, not just for your loved ones later on, but for yourself as well.
Make it a habit!
Swedish Death Cleaning isn’t a one time, big time thing–it’s a way of life!
Once you start doing it, try your best to make decluttering a habit in the days, months, or years to come. This way, you don’t only get to continuously live sustainably, you also get to ensure that you don’t defeat the purpose of why you decided to do Swedish Death Cleaning in the first place. This outlook also helps remove the pressure of having to finish sorting and tossing out everything in one go!
That’s about it on Swedish Death Cleaning! Told ya it isn’t something to be turned off about!
Eager to learn more on how to help and protect loved ones after passing on? Make sure to watch out for my next blog or, better yet, drop me a line!
Don’t worry about paying for anything–it’s free to get in touch with me!