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“The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson is a witty and engaging book that offers an approachable guide to reducing clutter and unneeded belongings from your home so that others do not have to do this for you.
The author, who describes herself as age “somewhere between eighty and one hundred years old,” matter-of-factly dispenses advice on why death cleaning, called dostadning in Swedish, is both a gift to your family, as “we want to save precious time for our loved ones after we are gone,” and to yourself by making life “easier and less crowded.”
The book is short enough to read in an afternoon. And Ms. Magnusson’s tone – warm, frank, humorous, and a little salty – combined with charming stories about her life in Sweden make a challenging task feel doable. Whether you’re in your forties and want to declutter your home or in your eighties and downsizing, giving some thought to how to lighten the burden of your belongings is worthwhile.
For me, it inspired a long-put-off garage clean out. I’ll admit that two hours into the task, with the entire contents of our garage spread on the driveway, I was not feeling particularly pleased with dear Ms. Magnusson. However, a few hours and two trips to the donation center later, I was grateful to have a much cleaner and better organized garage.
For others, it may be an opportunity to make sure sentimental possessions are placed with the right person. Or to ensure items with a monetary value (but perhaps less sentimental ties) are sold to a collector who appreciates the item and its value.
Although your loved will do their best, the task of sorting through your belongings after you’ve died can overwhelming or time consuming, and items of true emotional or economic value may be overlooked. Setting aside some time now to downsize your possessions will lighten your loved one’s load at an already difficult time.
If this sounds like a project you’re ready to take on, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” will provide just the inspiration you need!