As blunt as it may sound, we are all going to die one day. And all that stuff you’ve accumulated over the years can’t be taken with you. I recently decided to try out the decluttering method called Swedish Death Cleaning to further understand this morbid decluttering technique & see if this mindset is beneficial to downsizing our lives.
What Is The Swedish Death Cleaning Method?
According to the spruce.com, Swedish Death Cleaning is a method of organizing and decluttering your home before you die to lessen the burden of your loved ones after you’ve passed. Typically, those of the older generation or those battling terminal illness will lean towards this method of cleaning. But I say, you can never be too old to downsize your belongings. From personal experience, the reasons I’ve leaned towards more minimalistic ways of living was due to family members passing on & then having to find new homes for their “cherished” items. It really placed things into perspective. And I think this method goes beyond the idea of becoming a burden to others & instead allowing yourself to free your space of excess clutter in a guilt free manner.
As morbid as it may sound, I truly think this method of decluttering can put perspectives on what you find important. Instead of simply asking yourself, “does this spark joy?” You are furthering it by asking, “would my family want to have this in their lives?” Now this isn’t saying you should just get rid of everything you own that makes you who you are. Obviously, we are all different & what we may enjoy may not be special to someone else. So, I think an even better question to ask yourself may be , “is this item worth holding onto / storing?” I recently went through my sentimental items again to see if I could condense the containers even further since my storage space is rather limited. It’s so fascinating to see what we deem as so near & dear to our hearts. I’ve talked about ways to declutter sentimental items in the past. Recently, I downsized said keepsakes by taking digital photos of the item instead of letting the physical belonging age in storage. And in other cases, I tried to see if I could repurpose or display the trinkets somewhere in our home. A quick take away I tell myself is, finding ways to give life to said items instead of having them collect dust in a box in the back of a closet.
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It Allowed Me To Examine My Home From Top To Bottom
The Swedish Death Cleaning Method has you question every aspect of your life. And I realized, I still hold onto items just in case I need it one day. And we know from my previous decluttering post, those “What If I Need It One Day” Items are such a waste of space. For example, in our spare closet, I kept our Halloween costumes from last year thinking we would MAYBE wear them again this year. And in all honesty – we never wear a costume more than once. So, during this decluttering session, I let those go. And as silly as it may sound in the middle of July – I also went through seasonal decor for both Halloween & Christmas. Most cases, I wait until that season to let go of broken or unused decor, but this method of decluttering allowed me to go through those areas here & now so I am not burdened by the clutter a few months from now. I also was able to take inventory of wrapping supplies & came to the conclusion, we don’t need to purchase any new supplies this year. Yay!
Giving Items New Life / Purpose
If we cherish an item so much, we should allow it to have significant meaning to our lives, right? Books should be read, journals should be written in & toys should be played with. It’s sad when belongings get stored away never to be used again. Think of the Pixar movie, Toy Story – wouldn’t you rather give those items a chance at a second life? We almost grow this sick attachment to your stuff for an array of reasons. But the Swedish Death Method allows us to understand the importance of only keeping what we truly need, use or want. Everything else has the luxury to be used by someone else. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right? And finding purpose for something sparks so much more value than having it sit unused. For example, when I moved out – I was gifted a few ornaments that hung on our family Christmas tree. It always makes me happy to see those ornaments being used & passed down so when we have a family of our own – our kids can enjoy them as much as I did.
It’s Not Just a Burden To Others
It becomes a burden to you! And so, why can’t we just let those items go? According to the Swedish Death Method, reasons for having difficulty letting things go can be due to fear, our clutter instinct & our hoarder instinct. And as I said before, us humans have the tendency to hold onto items “just in case”. Swedish Death Cleaning grants us this freeing & eye opening perspective to let go of that burden for once & give yourself the gift of space.
The Longer You Hold On To Something The Harder It Is To Let Go
There are items I’ve had in my possession for YEARS! And some of those items, I can’t even remember why I kept it in the first place. But because I’ve had it forever, I just assume it’s for a good reason & so, there it stays in a storage bin or drawer. And the tough reality is a lot of items hold a certain form of value. Whether it was a gift from someone, holds a memory, reminds you of a special someone – these reasonings cloud our judgement. For example, when my dad passed away, I decided to take a few of his shirts home with me. I would sometimes wear them for comfort, but mostly – I’d just store them in my dresser as a security blanket if you will. It was almost like having his clothing made the feeling of him being gone sting a little less. Over time, I realized having those pieces of clothing was actually making the grieving process more difficult. And in all honesty – I don’t think my dad would really care if I had his clothing or not. So, a few weeks ago I ripped the bandaid & donated those few t-shirts. And I feel a lot better. A great reminder to myself is , “the item is not the person”.
I personally love the concept of The Swedish Death Cleaning Method. I find it so freeing. I love how it allows myself to really ask myself, “does this item serve a purpose?” & “would someone else want this when I’m gone?” And in turn these simple questions can give you the push to let a few extra things go. And ultimately – you can stop the excess clutter from affecting your life in such negative ways.
What are your thoughts on the Swedish Death Cleaning Method?
if you are interested in learning more about this decluttering method, be sure to check out Margareta Magnusson‘s book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.