swedish death cleaning: things to keep in mind

swedish death cleaning: things to keep in mind
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash
“Death cleaning is not about dusting or mopping up; it is about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly.” ― Margareta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Swedish death cleaning or döstädning is a relatively new decluttering trend that is mainly geared towards getting rid of things so that other people won’t have to deal with them when a person is gone. This may sound morbid on the surface but if you go deeper, it totally makes sense. If you’ve lost a loved one, you would be knowing how difficult it can be to go through their stuff. Not only are there different things that need to be taken care of but also uncomfortable conversations about how to distribute the belongings of the deceased.

Your family and friends don’t need to inherit everything from you but only a few things that truly matter. The idea behind death cleaning is to let go of unnecessary things as we age. A motto that we can use during this process is: “If you don’t love it, lose it. If you don’t use it, lose it.”

Here are some simple techniques that we can employ to implement the art of döstädning:

  1. Share your death cleaning efforts and talk about them with your close friends and family. This will help you diminish any fears that you have around it.
  2. Start with larger items like furniture before moving on to personal things.
  3. It doesn’t matter what age or stage of life you’re presently in, don’t hold yourself back from decluttering.
  4. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you go through your possessions and spend time with the feelings that arise from you.
  5. Keep a box of sentimental items that have things “just for you” such as a dried flower, a gratitude stone, or a souvenir from a place you love. Your loved ones can go through this box when you die knowing that they can throw them all away.
  6. Choose destinations for the things that you want to let go of. Some ways to declutter are giving away unwanted gifts, passing things down to your children, letting your friends take any excess furniture items, or donating to charity.
  7. Become mindful about creating space in your life and simplify whenever and wherever you can.

Take your time to go through your things with care. Death cleaning is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep what you need and let go of what no longer adds value to your life.

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If you enjoyed this insight and agree with the notion of simplicity and clutter-free living, I’d encourage you to read my book Daily Minimalism (Book 4 of The Daily Learner Series). The condensed timeless knowledge in the daily meditations will help you navigate through the complexities that come with modern living and guide you in your quest to live a happy and meaningful life.


Due to a translation error, a Swedish company once sold microwaves in the United States with a setting to cook "children."