Instead of Marie Kondo’s rhetorical question, “What sparks joy?” Swedish author Margareta Magnusson has a different approach to clearing clutter.
She’d like you to think about how your family members would feel finding your belongings around after you’re gone.
In her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, Magnusson details her method for letting go of items that might make your passing harder for your family.
The approach is similar to Kondo’s in that you start with clothing and books — things that are easier to get rid of — and move your way onto more personal objects like family photographs and heirlooms.
The “gentle” part comes from keeping your family’s feelings in mind as you declutter, thinking all the while of what will make your passing easier on them.
“Death cleaning is not about dusting or mopping up,” Magnussen writes. “It is about a permanent form of organisation that makes your everyday life run more smoothly.”
In Sweden, the process of slowly decluttering your life of excess stuff is called dostadning, and many people begin it as early as their 50s. It’s not meant to be morbid, but simply to make managing your possessions easier on everyone.
Let’s face it: Over the course of your life, a lot of stuff can be amassed, especially if you’ve lived in one home for decades. Chances are, you don’t need a lot of it anymore, and going through all of it when you’re gone will be painful and difficult for your loved ones.
“I don’t think you need to start death cleaning at 40, but you need to start thinking about your habits of collecting and you should definitely start getting organised,” Magnussen told News Corp. Australia’s Chronicle.
Despite its foreboding name, death cleaning can make your life more enjoyable as well … and it’s a great way to lighten up the conversation of what will happen to all of your things when you’re gone.