Letting Go of Your Clutter with The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

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Letting Go of Your Clutter with The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

A decluttering phenomenon has swept the world, called Swedish Death Cleaning (SDC). Traditionally, this is an old tradition within Swedish culture known as, dӧstädning. Translated to English, it means "death cleaning." Margareta Magnusson used this concept, giving it a modern update when she wrote her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.

Magnusson writes, "If you care for your loved ones then it's only fair to spare them the emotional and physical burden of cleaning up your stuff." This is the basic concept of SDC, letting go of the amount of items in your life because when you pass on. This way your loved ones are not handling a mountain of unmanageable items which could cause stress or, even worse, in-fighting amongst them.

Below are the steps you can take to start working through your own Swedish Death Cleaning process:

1. Anyone Can Do It

The SDC is for anyone at any age, but Magnusson especially recommends anyone over 50 years old to start this process for themselves.

2. Go Slow

SDC is not meant to be a big sudden lifestyle change. It’s meant as a slow journey, not a goal to be completed.

3. Careful Consideration

Carefully consider each item you want to leave behind for loved ones.

4. Embarrassing Items

Get rid of the items you believe will embarrass or “hurt” your loved ones sooner rather than waiting.

5. Tell Your Loved Ones

SDC concept makes telling your loved ones an important step so you take ownership and responsibility of your stuff, rather than leaving them with the burden.

6. Be Reasonable

Like with step #2, take the process at a reasonable pace. Start with the easiest and smallest items to let go of first.

7. Give Items As Gifts

One way to start getting rid of items, is to give them to your loved ones like a birthday or holidays, rather than waiting until your passing for them to receive the item.

8. Treasure For Some, Burden For Others

It’s important to remember that some of your items, while they bring you happiness, may be a burden to someone else. Think of a person who will truly appreciate the item. If not, donate that item.

9. Reward Yourself

Lastly, don’t forget to reward yourself along the journey. Don’t buy new things but go out and have a fun experience doing things you enjoy.

Swedish Death Cleaning can sound morbid but once you get started, you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders. There’s a sense of peace knowing you’ll make a positive impact on your loved ones even when you’re gone.

Do you enjoy decluttering? Read about the Konmari Method created by Marie Kondo in Letting Go of Your Clutter Part 1.


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