Japan has Marie Kondo, encouraging all of us to “Kondo” parts of our homes. Now, Sweden has its very own organizing term for export, “Death Cleaning” with its own budding decluttering star, Margareta Magnusson, author of the upcoming The Gentle Art of Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter. Thanks to her, "Death cleaning" has recently entered the American lexicon, making the appearances in many conversations and articles. When I first read The Washington Post’s Americans are pack rats. Swedes have the solution: ‘Death Cleaning’, I immediately felt familiar with the act of paring down one’s items later in life to avoid passing on the burden to loved ones. I’ve had a number of older clients hire me for just this, none yet specifically putting in an order for “Death Cleaning.”
Also, I’ve had clients much closer to mid-life who have hired me for the same, clearly articulating that this is for the sake of not passing their life’s collections, papers, and stresses onto their kids, however young. As you’ll see in Magnusson’s short (under 4 minute) video, she ends with a visit to her daughter’s storage unit, encouraging her to death clean it all out, pointing out “you can die tomorrow!"
I love this. Just like with Kondo, it’s not for everyone. There are going to be those who think the method, sentiment, or name is too harsh, severe, and insensitive. It gets us to take notice though. There are going to be fewer storage units and painful post-funeral clean-outs for it, and that can only be a good thing.
Magnusson says in the video, “Don’t collect things that you don’t want. Someone has to take care of it one day.” Are you the person who will likely inherit both the beautiful and painful items of a loved one in upcoming years? Regardless of your age, are you already feeling the pull to “death clean?” Do you think the Swedes nailed it with the name? What is your advice for those ready to embark on this journey? Please share in the comments!