• S - Swedish Death Cleaning

    S is for Swedish Death Cleaning

    #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

    Bet I got your attention with that title.  
    It is a real thing and it caught my attention as well.

    Swedish Death Cleaning for Beginners:
    How to Declutter and Downsize your way to a happy home and life
    by Sara Hodges.  

    WOW - I thought.  Death Cleaning!  How is that different from any of the other declutter, downsize, minimize, frugality readings I have done?  Can there possibly be anything new "under the sun" on this series to topics that I haven't seen yet.

    The simple answer is yes - and I have actually seen this done but did not realize what it was!

    I am a long time down-sizer, a sometimes frugality proponent, and a dabbler in the minimalist movement!  I have done my fair share of reading on all those topics from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (from the 1990s) up to and including Marie Kondo's recent best seller  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

    Since the 1990s I have cleaned out, organized, downsized, decluttered and drove my self totally nuts - making room in a 2,200 square foot town house for returning family members to live.  First it was for my mother-in-law who was in hospice for lung cancer (yes, I was her caregiver too), then for a returning son after military service, then for a daughter during a down time, then for my mom who was no longer able to live on her own, and finally for myself and my husband as we did the traditional senior citizen downsize - to move into 1375 square feet of condo space. I thought I knew a lot about this topic - 'cause I had lots of practice.

    What could this little book offer me - except the answer to what was 'death cleaning.'

    Grims-ville!  I thought.
     So, of course, I read on!!

    What the heck is Death Cleaning?

    The author says it best on the first page of Chapter 1 ...

    "To put it simply, the art of Swedish death cleaning is about ridding your home of possessions that you don't want, need or use, so when you do happen to kick the bucket, your loved ones are not left with the grave emotional task of shifting through 80+ years of your stuff.  It's a blatantly honest approach to decluttering your home and a very transparent way to look at all the things that you possess."

    Light bulb time!  
    Ok, I get it!
    Clean out your own stuff
    So your relatives don't have to do it for you.

    I will say that the words "art" in relation to throwing things out ... and "kick the bucket" in relation to dying - made me smile a bit.

    Before you say why should I care about Death Cleaning - let me share a story about an uncle that my cousin shared with me.

    My Uncle Walter died the month before my mom.  His son, my cousin, called me a month later to offer his condoences.  We hadn't chatted in probably 30 years.  But we both lost parents within a month of each other.  It was good to talk.

    Uncle Walter lived in the same house he brought his bride to in the 1950s.  He died in 2014 and his wife pre-deceased him by many years.  You might anticipate, expect, understand ... if his house was filled to the brim with all the little items of living until 90 and on his own as a widower for many years.  But you would be wrong.  At his death, he left behind a totally cleaned out house - with only the items he needed to live.  His closets were totally bare except for his one personal clothes closet, excess furniture was gone, surfaces were totally clear.  My cousin said when they entered the house after his father's death to prepare it for sale - they discovered the wonderful gift he left behind for his children ... a house that required no cleaning, no repair and no clean out!  NONE!

    My Uncle did 'death cleaning' without knowing about this topic or book.

    So death cleaning may not be important to you - but it is a wonderful last gift to give the ones who love you.

    Yes, I have swept my life clean of things that were redundant and unnecessary in downsizing to this smaller condo.  But I am not done yet.  My downsize journey going forward with be for a different audience other than myself.  It will be for my children - so when they are in the midst of grieving (after I kick the bucket,) they won't have to be further weighed down by the weight of all my stuff.

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