Whoa!…. That title sounds kinda scary, doesn’t it? Well, it shouldn’t as the Swedish concept of döstädning, “death cleaning”, or “one last sweep”, is actually something that can be quite wonderful. I know from some of my past experiences with decluttering that getting rid of stuff can make you feel so much better. You can even invite your friends and family to help and use this as a bonding experience.
Last summer we did a big decluttering session here and the house felt so much better afterward. Well, that feeling has since worn off as we’ve had Christmas and birthdays which brought in more clutter as well as the fact that other clutter has found its way in the house as well.
With 600 square feet and as many people as we have, things can get quite cluttered quite quickly. When my mom-mom died last year and we went to visit the family I saw that she had done some major decluttering herself. The house still looked the same in many ways but many things that we remembered had been gifted or removed by her before she died.
I can understand how important that decluttering can be for someone as many times we surround ourselves with so much stuff that we don’t even notice how cluttered things have become. Who will be responsible for taking care of the STUFF when we are gone? That’s not something that I want to leave for my kids to do.
I have read a little bit here and there about this Swedish Death Cleaning and there are a ton of books on Amazon about the Swedish Death Cleaning. There are also a ton of blog posts and articles about the subject that you can look into for more information.
This month, starting today, I plan to do our own version of the Swedish Death Cleaning here in our little cabin. Like I said before it is a very small home and with this many people, it gets cluttered very easily.
I’ve really tried to limit the number of things I personally bring into the house but I can’t always control the number of things that come in and our house has become a little bit uncomfortable with all of this clutter.
Not to mention that we have been extraordinarily busy with different things going on and some of the clutter has resulted just from ‘dumping’ things in places that they don’t belong. Much of our homeschool stuff was recently relocated to the shed where it was organized but we do have a good bit of school stuff still in the house as well as books… yeah, we have lots of books which I know will be one of my hardest areas.
There are a lot of strategies to get started with as some suggest going from top to bottom (attic to the basement) while others suggest going room by room, Some suggest starting with the larger items first and working your way down to the smaller more meaningful items for last. Some suggest doing it all at once while others suggest doing a little at a time. The main concept is to sort through your belonging and get rid of the unnecessary stuff.
This is also a good time to get your personal affairs in order and put them somewhere safe. Be sure to include items such as:
- financial information
- insurance information
- burial plans
- other important information
The three most important questions to ask yourself while doing this cleaning are:
- Will I ever need this again?
- Will someone else need it?
- Will anyone be happier if I save this?
When going through this process it would probably be best to have a couple of bins or piles for ‘Throwaway‘, ‘Keep‘, and/or ‘Donate‘. A good idea to keep in mind is that some of the sentimental items could possibly be regifted to a friend or family member who would really appreciate them.
Occasionally you will come across an item that you realize may cause problems between family members if it is ‘left’ for one and not the other. I have read that it is suggested to take care of it beforehand, maybe even selling it, to eliminate these kinds of issues after you pass.
Another thing that you should take care of would be personal and private items. If you have any of these that you can’t get rid of right now you should put them in a container and label it with something like:
Do Not Open
Personal and Private
Please dispose of IMMEDIATELY!
Throw Away Without Opening
Doing these things will not only help you with the clutter in your life but it will help your loved ones later on when the time comes for them to sort through the belongings you have left behind. This should give you a sense of peace knowing that your loved ones will have an easier time going through your stuff.
Remember that this is likely not to be a one time purge that will never need repeating but if you do regular mini sessions you can stay on top of it and not need to do a major purge later on. This can also be an emotional process so go at your own pace and get others to help whenever you can.
We’ve had another death in the family recently and we still need to go through the sheds full of belongings which is taking some time to get started on as this happened quite unexpectedly. I’m sure there will be a lot of emotions and choices to make when we do get around to doing it though.
We have a different reason for this major decluttering that we will be doing and it will not be as thorough as a traditional ‘death cleaning’ but it will be quite helpful for us in the near future. When it comes to my personal belongings I probably will go ahead a get rid of some things as I know I things that I’ve just held onto for no particular reason.
Have you tried the Swedish Death Cleaning Method? How did it help you?
Be sure to follow along with our blog for updates on how our decluttering is going.
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