My parents were both born during the Great Depression, making them part of the Silent Generation. Being born during a time of hardship impacted them in many ways, and one of the lasting impacts was difficulty letting stuff go. Everything had value, and when it came time to downsize, we followed the Swedish Death Cleaning method. Swedish Death Cleaning is a method of organizing and decluttering your home found in Margareta Magnussen’s book, The gentle art of Swedish Death Cleaning. The idea is to prepare so that when you die, you have only saved the most precious items for your loved ones, not just a bunch of clutter. Older people typically do it, but anyone can do it anytime. My experience was with my parents, who are in their 80s. It took us about six months, but we sold, donated, and sorted so they could move into a smaller space. Looking back on it, it was a time that I will treasure. It was like participating in an archeological dig of my family, but with the experts there to tell you the story of each item you discovered. There were items I never knew about that I will now treasure, but there were even more items we said goodbye to.
The steps of Swedish death cleaning are:
Start small: Don't try to declutter your entire home all at once. Start with one room or category of belongings, such as clothes, books, or papers.
Be ruthless: When decluttering, ask yourself if you need or use each item. If you don't, get rid of it. Be honest with yourself about what you want to keep. Don't keep things just because you feel guilty about getting rid of them.
Be sentimental: It's okay to keep some sentimental items, even if you don't use them anymore. But don't let sentimentality get in the way of decluttering.
Get help: If you're struggling to declutter independently, ask a friend or family member for assistance. They can offer support and encouragement and help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
Swedish death cleaning can be difficult, but it's a way to make things easier for your loved ones after you're gone. It's also a way to free yourself from the burden of clutter and live a more simplified life. So start decluttering early. The earlier you start, the less overwhelming the process will be. Swedish death cleaning can be a rewarding experience. It's a way to simplify your life, free yourself from clutter, and make things easier for your loved ones after you're gone.