Swedish Death Cleaning



Ever heard of Swedish Death Cleaning? It is a cultural concept embedded in the psyche of the Scandinavian country of Sweden. There it is known as dostadning, which translates to “do” (death) and “standing” (cleaning). It is a concept from a culture that values order, cleanliness and individual responsibility leading to a person completing their life cycle and not being a burden to their family and descendants. The thrust of this philosophy is to de-clutter your life physically and mentally.

Applying the gentle art of Swedish Death Cleaning will help us make our life’s circumstances more efficient and effectively free us from mental and physical constants to live fuller and more rewarding years.

So how does this concept work in the everyday American life? Simply put, we start with the basic but powerful directive of What Do I Hold Onto. This starting point is where we all must begin. For example, we’ve all kept certain items around the house as a reminder of an experience, but we really don’t need to have the object to trigger a memory. Our mind still holds onto the trip or special day that led to keeping a souvenir. Those items are a good starting point in the de-cluttering process. Another simple one is look in the kitchen and see how many plates and glasses there are. Chances are, we don’t need them all.

Many will say, “That souvenir is from a trip with my brother, sister, etc,” so that is where another concept in the Swedish Death Cleaning philosophy arises: Involve Others. The philosophy stresses accountability of one’s life and actions. By involving others, we not only document the items and events, but include them in the cleaning plan.

We are, in essence, doing it the opposite of the traditional American way of leaving all the items and having the family sort it all out after we are no longer there. The Swedish way incorporates the family unit in a sharing way, which adds value to life’s backstretch and improves mental health of people.

We should apply this sharing and documentation process to not only heirlooms and mementos but financial, property and legal documentation. Just a reminder: don’t forget those crazy passwords we have setup to access computer files and accounts.

If all this seems too overwhelming or you are not sure where to start, go to the closet. We all have items we no longer wear or that don’t fit. This is an easy first step to get the de-cluttering process going.

Elaine Gerwin owns EG Helping Hand Services, LLC, which makes it easy for anyone to start a de-cluttering plan and stick with it. Her services are designed on an individual basis to meet
clients’ goals. Connect at 520-471-5077, email EGHelpingHandServices@gmail.com or visit EGHelpingHandServices.com. See ad, page 11.

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