Swedish Death Cleaning

I’ve taken advantage of the past couple of cold, wintery weekends to begin my Swedish Death Cleaning project in the guest room. It ceased functioning as a guest room long ago and has become a junk room/storage room.

Swedish Death Cleaning is a bit of an off-putting term but is simply a decluttering method that takes you beyond Marie Kondo’s mantra, “does it bring you joy?” by adding “will it bring anyone else joy?” It involves taking care of clearing out your own clutter rather than leaving it for someone else to do after you are gone. This is not just for the elderly, though. The younger generations get caught up in keeping too much useless stuff, too.

I’ve not read the original book, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter,” by Margaretta Magnusson,, but am trying to follow her words of advice: “If you don’t love it, lose it. If you don’t use it, lose it.” The final decision-making question is, “Will anyone be happier if I save this?” Most often, the answer is “no.”

I remember how hard it was to dispose of my mom’s household goods when she died. Even though my sister had already helped her purge her house to move her from Oregon to Arizona, and Mom had identified things that needed to go to someone specific, it was a lot of work to dispose of her stuff, on top of all the emotion of the time. I can’t even try to imagine how much worse it would have been if she hadn’t left things in such good order. So, I have already experienced the value of Swedish Death Cleaning.

The process is very taxing on the brain, and I can only work at it for a short period of time at each setting. It’s definitely going to be a long project that needs consistent effort.

Last week we got the bunk beds out of the room and to the garage (since they belong to a family member, I can’t bless someone else with them). We put in some shelves to organize the tools, gardening, and chicken supplies that have accumulated as we’ve worked on building up the homestead. This week, we cleaned and bagged up the mattresses and moved them to the garage. That left me enough room to work on “the shoving closet” – the place I shove everything that doesn’t have a place to belong. I went through VCR movies (I kept less than a dozen – down from a whole box), books (I kept only my three favorite authors and a few other strays, maybe a couple dozen total – two big boxes are ready to donate to the library), and yarn and undone crochet projects (unopened skeins went to the donate pile, the rest to the garbage). Once I hit the bag containing my mom’s wedding dress, grandmother’s doilies, and various other textiles from previous generations, I could not make a decision and knew it was time to stop.

This isn’t the only room I need to declutter. There are things throughout the house and garage I brought from Wyoming over 10 years ago that I’ve not touched. It’s definitely time to go through everything.

Fair warning though – it’s definitely not the time to come over to my house – such chaos!

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