A new trend in decluttering has emerged that not only makes the afterlife easier for your loved ones, but also brings joy to the process of letting go. Welcome to the world of Swedish death cleaning, the Marie Kondo of the afterlife.
Swedish death cleaning, or döstädning, is a term coined by Swedish author Margareta Magnusson, who wrote the book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.” The idea is simple: as you age, start decluttering your home and getting rid of things you don’t need, so that when you pass away, your loved ones won’t have to deal with the burden of sorting through all of your stuff.
But this isn’t just decluttering. Swedish death cleaning is about more than just getting rid of things. It’s about confronting mortality and acknowledging that our time on this earth is limited. By decluttering our homes and our lives, we can free ourselves from the burden of excess and create space for what truly matters.
By focusing on what truly matters to us, we can make the process a joyful one. Instead of feeling burdened by our possessions, we can feel liberated by the knowledge that we’re leaving behind only what truly matters.
So why is an estate planning attorney talking about Swedish death cleaning? No, I am not becoming a döstädning consultant. Clients are always asking me what they should do besides a Last Will & Testament or a Living Trust. Some of the things that make a death gentler on loved ones have nothing to do with the law – such as providing a list of your passwords and accounts, having serious talks with proposed guardians and health care agents.
But Swedish death cleaning is not only about what we can do for others, but ties into the relief we feel when we finish a difficult emotional task -like a Will. In a world where we’re bombarded by stuff and constantly told that we need more, Swedish death cleaning reminds us that we don’t need things to be happy. By decluttering our lives, we can create space for the things that truly matter: love, connection, and a sense of purpose. I would like to bring more of that feeling into estate planning.
So, how do you get started with Swedish death cleaning? Start by taking a look around your home and identifying the things that truly matter to you. What brings you joy? What memories do you want to keep alive? What possessions are essential to your sense of self? What would be better off with someone else?
Once you’ve identified these things, it’s time to start decluttering. Go through your possessions one by one, and ask yourself whether each item brings you joy or serves a purpose. If not, it’s time to let it go. There will be some things that you can’t bear to part with. That’s okay. The point of Swedish death cleaning isn’t to get rid of everything, but to free ourselves from the burden of excess. Keep the things that truly matter to you, and let go of the rest.
By embracing Swedish death cleaning, we can create a legacy that reflects who we truly are, and make the afterlife easier for our loved ones. We can find joy in the process of letting go, and create space for what truly matters. Would it be weird and morbid if I gave a copy of this books to every client?
Have you not started your estate plan yet? If you live in New York State, you can get started right away by booking an online appointment, answering our estate planning questionnaire and checking out some of our guides and free forms.