Take responsibility for your items today. Don’t leave them as a burden for family and friends. And enjoy the process of putting your things in order!

More than one year ago, Margareta Magnusson, the Swedish lady aged “between 80 and 100”, published her book ‘The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning:

How to make your loved ones’ lives easier and your own life more pleasant’

I am interested in any book that has to do with tidying up. However, I remember that I was a bit hesitant to buy this one when I saw it in the book shop. ‘Death Cleaning‘?! The title sounds really weird, doesn’t it? But I bought it, – and very much enjoyed reading it.

And I learned a lot about decluttering again, this time from a new and refreshing perspective.

This book is not about someone who’s all her life struggled to keep the house organised, and now presents the perfect and the only solution.

Instead, it’s the story of someone approaching the end of life, sharing what she learned by clearing up after family members’ deaths, and why it’s useful to get our things in order before we die. “I’ve death cleaned so many times for others, I’ll be damned if someone has to death clean for me,” Margareta Magnusson writes.

‘Death cleaning’ is not only useful for older people

Clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for us. “It is not sad at all,” Margareta says. “I’ve discovered that it is rewarding to spend time with these objects one last time and then dispose of them.”

Make the life of your loved ones easier by having your belongings sorted

Some weeks after I’d read the book, my mother passed away, unexpectedly. Clearing out her home was a very sad and upsetting process for my sisters and me. Only many months later, I was able to think about that process in a less emotional way.

I realised that my mother in most regards had followed Margareta’s recommendations – without knowing her book!

My mother’s paperwork was orderly sorted and all kept in one place.

Yes, she had taken thousands of photographs during the course of her life and her travels, but they were all well sorted in albums and photo books.

She loved decorating her place and regularly rearranged the interior design of her house. However, she left only one cupboard with no-longer-used decorative items she had collected over the years and not managed to dispose of.

She was a great entertainer and often invited people to her place. But she had only kept the amount of crockery, cutlery, glasses, and kitchenware that was necessary to prepare and organise the meals and parties for her family and friends.

She enjoyed reading in the evenings but had kept only those books she planned to read again and again.

Sorting through the belongings of a loved one is always tough and emotionally challenging.

However, my mother had successfully managed to make this unwanted task as easy as possible for us.

There was only one category of my mother’s belongings that we struggled to make decisions about. Read more …