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The Surprisingly Joyful Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning

Coluccio Images August 2022

Declutter To Reinvent: Cat Coluccio

If you’re like most people over 40, you probably have a number of things you don’t use anymore.

“This unique approach to decluttering can help you let go of the past and make room for new experiences in your life.”

Swedish Death Cleaning:

Including sentimental items that you can’t seem to let go of even though they’re taking up valuable space. That chipped china set gifted by your grandmother at your wedding? That tarnished silver frame from your long-passed favorite aunt? It’s hard to let go of things associated with memories of special people. Yet if you want to downsize, letting go of clutter is one of the first steps to take. And that includes sentimental clutter – perhaps the most challenging clutter of all to release. 

If this sounds daunting, however, don’t despair as I might have the solution for you – Swedish death cleaning. This unique approach to decluttering can help you let go of the past and make room for new experiences in your life. And surprisingly, you might find that the process can be a joyful one, especially when you get to the final step. Read on to learn more about what Swedish death cleaning is so you can get started today!

Swedish death cleaning, is also known as döstädning. It is a unique approach to decluttering your home. It’s also sometimes called “Margareta’s method,” named after Margareta Magnusson, who wrote a book about the subject. It’s based on the premise that we should only keep things in our homes that bring us joy or are useful. This means getting rid of anything that doesn’t fall into those two categories. 

Step 1: What Can You Get Rid Of?

When you apply Swedish death cleaning, you start by going through all of your belongings. During this endeavor you decide what to keep and what to get rid of. This in itself can be overwhelming, but it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you really need and use. Start with anything broken or damaged, focus on one room at a time. What items do you have that are no longer usable – clothes with holes in them or dishes with cracks?

“Donating or selling these items are great ways to declutter your home and help others in the process!”

Once you’ve gotten rid of these items, you can move on to decluttering the rest of the house. Start by getting rid of any furniture that you don’t need or use anymore. This might include extra chairs, tables, or dressers. 

Next, go through your belongings and get rid of anything that you don’t use on a regular basis. This could include things like clothes that you never wear or books that you haven’t read in years. Knick-knacks that are just taking up space are good to discard. Once you’ve completed removing all of the broken and unused possessions from your home, you are ready to move onto step two. 

Step 2: What Can You Donate?

The next step in Swedish death cleaning is to donate or sell anything that you don’t need or want anymore. This includes clothes, furniture, books, and anything else you no longer use, or have any emotional attachment to. Donating or selling these items are great ways to declutter your home and help others in the process!

Anyone who has decluttered at any point in their life is sure to be familiar with the “toss or donate” decision-making process. Ironically though, the donating process is often the one that people get stuck on. As they end up driving the donated goods around in the trunk of their car for weeks before finally dropping them off at their intended destination! (Not speaking from experience here at all……..). Don’t be that person!

Once you’ve completed this step, you are then ready for step three. Decluttering your sentimental possessions. And this is where the magic of Swedish death cleaning really shines. 

Step 3: What Can You Gift?

Let go of sentimental items that are taking up space in your home. Some of these items might include old photos, letters, jewelry, artwork, china, silverware or keepsakes. While it can be difficult to let go of these objects, it’s important to remember that they’re just things. They don’t represent the person whose memory you hold in your heart. Nor do they define who you are or what your life is about.

Instead of trashing or donating a sentimental object, the questions to ask yourself are: “Who could I gift it to and who would love it.?” This is where Swedish death cleaning differs from regular “how to declutter” lists, as you are gifting meaningful objects to loved ones today while you are alive, instead of them receiving the gifts after your death. 

“Swedish death cleaning differs from regular “how to declutter” lists, as you are gifting meaningful objects to loved ones today while you are alive”

How much more joyful and meaningful would it feel to gift your grandmother’s painting to your grandchild now, along with sharing the story and meaning behind it? 

Imagine the joy of your daughter when she wears one of your rings which she has long admired.

How wonderful will it feel to gift some of your lovely, rarely used china sets to your nieces and the daughters of close friends? 

Utilize Swedish Death Cleaning:

When you utilize Swedish death cleaning as part of your decluttering process, you don’t just end up with a beautiful clutter-free home, you’ll also receive that wonderful sensation of fresh space in your life. Ultimately though, you will get to experience the deep joy that comes with gifting your beloved treasures, keepsakes, and their stories to the people you care most about – an experience and gift they will remember and treasure long after you are gone. 

I hope that you are inspired to try Swedish death cleaning in your home and I’d love to hear how it goes. So, please find me online! Was it an easy experience for you, or did you find it emotionally challenging? 

Remember too, decluttering is your own personal journey. So if you don’t yet feel ready to give away your mother’s necklace, you don’t need to. Start thinking about who you would like to gift it to one day, however, and you can always keep a list of what items you want to gradually give away and to who when the time is right. 

Happy decluttering!

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Cat Coluccio

About the Author:

Cat Coluccio is a qualified Educator, Personal Trainer and Life Coach – and a champion of midlife women. She is the host of the Rocking Midlife® Community and Podcast, and the author of a number of books, including 21 Hacks to ROCK your Midlife.  Join my FREE 30 Day Love your Home Decluttering Challenge for 30 days of email prompts to help you fall in love with your home once more!

Cat is passionate about helping midlife women create fulfilling and purposeful lives yet understands how challenging it can feel to consider reinvention when your world is already so incredibly full. Hence she firmly believes that the first step to building the life that you desire in your next season, is to declutter and create space right now – be that physically, mentally or digitally.