Death cleaning may sound morbid and sad to our western ears but Karen, Professional Organiser at A Hand to Help found the opposite to be true.  This book review of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning are Karens thoughts on how a nation and community manages belongings in their golden years.

As a Professional Organiser, this book title grabbed my attention and I wanted to know more! This intriguing book claims to help free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter. It’s such an engaging and easy to read book with so much insight, encouragement and warmth.

The author Margareta Magnusson states that death cleaning is not sad. In Sweden where Margareta lives, death cleaning is a term that refers to “removing unnecessary things and making your home nice and orderly when you think the time is closer for you to leave the planet”.

Swedish Death Cleaning is a thoughtful way to declutter your home through a gentle process of slowly going through your personal belongings and deciding how to let go of the items that you do not want or need any more. Death cleaning does not actually involve death. The aim is to not leave “a mess” for your family and loved ones to deal with after your death. This can start at any stage of life, not just at an older age.

Margareta describes death cleaning as an enjoyable time and important process. It’s the process of spending time with your objects and then letting them go, either to family members, friends, to sell or donate. Each item has its own history and remembering that history, sharing it and passing the item and memory on is a powerful process.

“Going through all of your old belongings, remembering when you used them last and hopefully saying goodbye to several of them is very difficult for many of us” says Margareta. She advocates a methodical and thoughtful process of sorting through the contents of each room of your home at your own pace before deciding to gift, recycle or donate.

Swedish death cleaning is:

  • Slowly decluttering so your belongings are not a burden on others to sort through and make decisions about after your death.
  • Sharing the history of your precious items with your loved ones before your passing. It’s important and powerful for those who share and for those who receive.
  • To live with less and to consider how much your items mean to you.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is all about you having control of your belongings. Having control on how they come to your home and having control how they leave.

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