Lately, there seems to be a consistent flow of new "methods" to approach simplifying and minimizing your life. Which I am all for, since I am all about some minimalism. But, I'll have to admit, even I paused for a moment when I heard the term, "Swedish death cleaning."
So, what exactly is Swedish death cleaning?
In a nutshell, it is cleaning out your house in preparation to die.
Hmm... okay, that does sound a tad bit morbid when you put it that way. But, when you look at the overall concept behind the term, it's actually not as bad as you think.
Having been through the deaths of both of my parents, I have experienced first-hand what it's like to have to take care of someone else's belongings that have been left behind. And let me tell you... it ain't easy.
First of all, there's just the sheer quantity of stuff (especially if the person really liked to hold on to things). But beyond that, there's also a lot of emotional and spiritual turmoil involved because of the (often self-imposed) feelings of guilt and responsibility. Especially, if the person whose belongings you're going through was a close relative like a parent or a sibling. You feel responsible for doing what's "right"... even if you're not sure exactly what that is.
So, the idea of taking care of your own stuff in advance of your own passing is actually not that bad of an idea. It's just not a very popular one, since no one likes to talk about death.
The truth however, is we are all going to pass away at some point. That is life. So, if we can just get past that part, wouldn't it make sense to take care of as much as we can while we're here, so we aren't leaving the responsibility to our family and friends?
I hadn't heard of this term yet when I went through my major purge back in 2015. But, I did actually think about these things as I went through my belongings. I remember particularly going through one box of mementos that held my graduation gown, my high school pom uniform and my prom dress, and thinking... even if I did attempt to sit down with my kids one day and say, "Oh! Look at mom's old stuff!" What are the chances that they would even care? Slim to none.
So, why hold on to it then?
Instead of holding onto every single school project, note, greeting card, photo and memento that I had, in the hopes that one day my children might enjoy looking at them with me... I got rid of the excess and only kept the things that I really would want to look back on or pass down to my children. The truly important things that hold very special meaning. And then, I got rid of the rest.
And you know what? I think my future children will thank me for it.
But, the benefits in doing this type of cleaning out aren't just for your family and friends. They are for you too - in the here and now.
Minimalism and simplified living are so popular because they afford a special kind of freedom and empowerment that we often don't even realize existed. We've all been so trained by the society around us to want more, need more, have more... that when we finally do take a step back and decide to do the opposite, it feels like some invisible chains we didn't even know we were tied to are breaking. And they are!
Getting rid of all the excess... the extra... allows you to focus more fully on the things that are important to you and to enjoy them more. It also means less stress, less upkeep and less maintenance. Which, means both a better life for you now and an easier transition for your loved ones later.
So, don't let the crazy name scare you or hold you back from the idea of de-cluttering your stuff.
Just call it "Swedish Life Cleaning" instead and get to work. You'll be glad you did!
Until next time, keep your worries tiny and your dreams BIG!