Don't let the name frighten you. Although it may sound morbid, Death Cleaning — also called ‘döstädning’ in its native Swedish — is a gentle, meditative process that can help you achieve a calmer, more organised home. First outlined by Margareta Magnusson in her soon to be released book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning , the method is designed to help us minimise our belongings. Concerned that her relatives would struggle to cope with her excess clutter after she passed away, Stockholm-based artist Margareta Magnusson used mindfulness techniques to declutter her home, creating a beautiful living environment in her lifetime and giving herself and her relatives peace of mind after her death. So, while Margareta Magnusson initially designed the method to help her relatives cope after her death, the Swedish Death Cleaning techniques can actually be adopted by anyone of any age, who simply want to minimise and re-organise their possessions.
The joy of this system is that you benefit from living an uncluttered, stress-free life but when your time comes, your loved-ones are not faced with an overwhelming amount of clutter to sift through. It’s one of the kindest things you can do in advance to help the bereaved, yet you get to enjoy the results in your lifetime. A true win win!
MINDFULLY CLEAR THE CLUTTER
When Death Cleaning your home, Margareta Magnusson recommends asking a few questions to help you establish what's no longer useful to you. When you find an item you're not sure about, ask yourself: is this fulfilling a need? And will it be of any benefit to my loved ones after I'm gone, or will it just be a burden to them? Using these simple questions, should help you to be decide what you no longer need.
At this stage, it's also a good idea to write or update your Will, and consider joining the organ donors register — you can find more information on these topics on my recent blog 'Are You Good To Go'?
CREATE A NEW SYSTEM OF ORGANISATION IN YOUR HOME
Once you know which belongings you plan to keep, it’s important that you stay on top of things. To create a system that will last, consider how often you use certain items. Anything you want to keep but don't use frequently, can be stored out of sight.
Everyday items you can't live without should be within easy reach so find ways to keep them organised and easily accessible. The home storage solutions from Plastic Box Shop are useful if you’re looking to store smaller items, like jewellery, make-up, or craft and sewing accessories.
Remember to tackle your paperwork. Don't let it get the better of you!
GIVE AWAY UNWANTED BELONGINGS, TO BENEFIT OTHERS
If you think that any of your unwanted belongings could be of use to someone else in the future, then consider donating them to charity, rather than throwing them away. This has the added benefit of being a much more eco-friendly option, as your old belongings won't end up in as landfill.
You can donate the majority of your unwanted household goods, like clothing and homeware, to high-street charity shops, such as Save the Children. You can find out where their nearest outlet is located, along with more information about how to donate, using this guide on their website. Some charities – including Age UK – even have designated stores that will accept furniture and bulky items.
As far as other items are concerned, local refuse tips now have very good systems in place to ensure that as much as possible is recycled. Check out their websites or speak to the staff down there. You will find them very helpful. While you are clearing, it is always a good idea to put unwanted items together in categories such as clothes, white goods, mobile phones & computers, cardboard, batteries, scrap metal etc. This makes it easier to sort things out at the tip.
So, as you can see, there's nothing to fear about Swedish Death Cleaning. By taking the principles of Margareta Magnusson's method on board, you can create a calm, clutter-free home that will benefit you now and be a welcome help to your loved ones in the future.
Hspace is based in Sussex. We are experts in decluttering and organising. If you would like further information just give Helen a call on 07939 278923 or contact us via the website contact page.