The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Margareta Magnusson describes herself as somewhere between 80 and 100 years old and she has been engaged for some time in decluttering her life – but with a purpose.  Death cleaning is not just a matter of organizing and simplifying your home, it is an act of service for others.  As you grow older your life tends to shrink; a smaller family, a smaller income, a smaller apartment. Your possessions don’t fit anymore and you don’t need as many of them.  Downsizing might be forced on you or it might be a choice, but you can make it a meaningful experience.  Magnusson urges us to be kind to those we will leave behind by not leaving them too many possessions to deal with.  Don’t push the burden of decisions and hard work onto your family. While you are still able, take care of your things yourself.  There may be many things that can be sold, donated to charity or just tossed but the important things take time and thought.  As well as sparing your family work, you can reinforce your relationships. Treasured items are more meaningful when pressed into your loved ones hands by your own.  I have a number of items my grandmother gave to me over the years.  There is a small porcelain rooster I used to play with when I visited her and needed to sit still while the grownups talked.  There is a round knit box she made as a child herself and a beautiful copper pin made from a leaf she had collected from her yard.  How much more these mean to me because she handed them to me and said how much my visits had meant to her over the years.  With the relocating of your possessions is the opportunity to review a life fully lived and to share it with your loved ones.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian


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