Read 22 nonfiction books in 2022.
8/22 The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson
A charming, practical, and unsentimental approach to putting a home in order while reflecting on the tiny joys that make up a long life.
In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.
Margareta suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects). Digging into her late husband’s tool shed, and her own secret drawer of vices, Margareta introduces an element of fun to a potentially daunting task. Along the way readers get a glimpse into her life in Sweden, and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.
“A loved one wishes to inherit nice things from you, not ALL things from you.”
Death cleaning is a morbid topic for someone in their 40s but this title was interesting and full of helpful tips. The author reinforces the idea that although death cleaning is meant for the people who come after, it’s also helpful for you as you reflect on your life and think about your legacy.
It’s a mindful way to sort through your belongings throughout your life, so that your loved ones aren’t burdened by an excess of personal items after you die. She advises that the earlier we start the process of ‘death cleaning’, the better, so we’re not overwhelmed with a lifetime of objects by the time we’re elderly.
About the Author:
Margareta Magnusson is, in her own words, aged between 80 and 100. Born in Sweden, she has lived all over the world. Margareta graduated from Beckman’s College of Design and her art has been exhibited in galleries from Hong Kong to Singapore. She has five children and lives in Stockholm. She is the author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning and The Swedish Art of Aging Well.
What do you think about this topic? Have you had any experience in it?
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