'Death' Cleaning or 'Life' Cleaning? 7 Things to Get Rid of Today

Swedish Death Cleaning has been called the “morbid new decluttering trend” and the "latest lifestyle craze" according to news outlets. The latest book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, by Margareta Magnusson is the biggest trend to come out of Sweden since Swedish meatballs. 

The gist of the book is to declutter before you die so that loved ones won’t have to do the dirty work for you. In other words, be responsible for your own stuff instead of passing it down for future generations to take care of. For anyone who’s had to clean out a home following the passing of a loved one, I’m sure you won’t disagree with this approach. 

However, I encourage taking the perspective of Life Cleaning instead of Death Cleaning. Declutter for your best life now, not for once you’re gone.

Yes, planning for the end of life is always a loving and wise consideration. It takes the decisions off the shoulders of loved ones during such a difficult time. But when it comes to your stuff, declutter now to enjoy LIFE - not for preparation for DEATH. 

For some, it might give be extra motivation to do something for others rather than for yourself. If this is you, I will give you a clue… your family members are most interested in the items that you love too. It’s a win-win to get rid of items that you don't really want.

For example, maybe you went through a quick stint of stained glass making in the 90’s that wasn’t one of your more impressive hobbies. Now you're super passionate about oil painting and actually good at it. Your loved ones won’t care about the stained glass supplies because you don’t. They will care about your oil paintings because you do. 

Allow more space for those things you're passionate about now while you're living because that's what's going to keep you alive - longer and happier. 

Consider making this a lifestyle practice regardless of when your expiration date is. Magnusson recommends around age 65, but I say age: TODAY.

Here are some examples of items you can start decluttering today that will be a win-win for you and your loved ones. 

UNWORN CLOTHES

Get rid of items you don’t wear anymore - regardless of the reason. Keep items you love to wear or highly functional. Keep the clothes you really enjoy wearing. If you happen to suddenly (or expectantly pass), your loved ones will then only have to deal with those clothes you really liked, not the ones you didn’t.  

OLD HOBBY SUPPLIES  

Get rid of items related to old hobbies that are no longer relevant. This could include old projects that didn’t make the display cut. You are an evolving being. Embrace your new interests. 

UNINTERESTING BOOKS/MAGAZINES

If you’re no longer interested, let ‘em go. It’s that simple. 

NOT-SO-GOOD MEMORABILIA

Toss any bad memories. If it's upsetting to you, it will certainly be upsetting to family members when they come across it. No reason to carry that sh*t forward onto future generations (not to mention your life!). 

UNIMPRESSIVE PHOTOS

Eliminate photos that have nothing to do with anything. You know, the photo with your index finger covering most of the lens, the blurry photo of who knows what, or the picture of Grand Canyon (it’s not going anywhere and yours isn’t any better than anyone else’s). But keep the picture of the kids in front of the Grand Canyon. 

DUPLICATES

Did you forget you already have 3 whisks, 2 vacuums, and 5 pair of black boots, only 2 of which you really wear? Pick the best and get rid of the others. Just in case, you say? Live for today, not an unfortunate event in the improbable future.

BROKEN ITEMS

If you haven’t fixed it by now, you’re not going to. 
No. More. Broken. Energy. In. Your. Life. PERIOD.