Swedish Death Cleaning. Sounds a little sinister, doesn't it? As it turns out, it's a long-term, practical approach to decluttering. In my article "The Quandary of Inherited Heirlooms," I discussed how the burden of disposing of parental possessions has the younger generation in a state of angst, and the older generation in a state of worry about what will happen to the things they hold dear.
Perhaps a book with the title "Swedish Death Cleaning" isn't the best icebreaker, but after you've broached the subject (and you can't broach it soon enough), Margareta Magnusson's book, slated for release in January (possibly to avoid the chance of holiday hurt feelings) may be a good playbook to follow up with.
The book outlines the Swedish idea of döstädning, which translates to death cleaning. Dö means death in Swedish and städning means cleaning. The idea is, once you reach the age of, say, 60, you should start purging. The book tells readers where to start (in the closet), how to get rid of things (sell or gift them at first), and how to stay decluttered. And it introduces a simple mantra: Will Anyone Be Happier If I Save This?
If daunted, start small. You can even infuse your Swedish Death Cleaning with some Kondo-ness. If the item does not bring you joy during your lifetime, it is most certainly not going to impart joy to your heirs when you die. Take 5 minutes in the morning, or use the hour you save in Daylight Savings Time (before it goes away) and soon your life will be .....
While you're at it, don't forget to document what you have in your new, organized, pared down list of possessions. Swedish Death Cleaning encourages sharing the experience, including sharing with your family your wishes after you pass. During the process, putting together a document with relevant information including login and password information is encouraged.
And if all else fails, check out this woman's unique take on ridding herself of her material possessions in Brooklyn!