If you’ve found yourself at any point blissfully origami-ing your underwear a la Japanese organizational guru Marie Kondo, you may be ready for the Scandinavian decluttering trend of “death cleaning.”
Following in the Nordic footsteps of all things “hygge” (read: cosy), there’s a Swedish trend bubbling up in pop culture. It’s called “döstädning,” and basically, it’s all about, well, dispensing with our stuff—papers, possessions, paraphernalia—before we die and before our families have to deal with all that crap for us. Sometimes I feel like I’m proactively döstädning my way through life… and then failing and going to Ikea to accumu-binge again.
That said, the processes of döstädning are actually quite appealing and not necessarily only applicable at end of life. In “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” author Margareta Magnusson guides us, gently as it were, through how to approach this task with style and substance. Of course, in Sweden this is mainly an activity for older folks, but as we know from the Kondo craze and all the other books out there that encourage a purging of stuff, a culling at any stage of life can be positively liberating.
In a series of straightforward but oddly comforting chapters, Magnusson coaxes us into looking at this less as an anti-clutter approach and more as a true gift to our loved ones. She also frames it, quite convincingly, as a quiet but profound opportunity to interact with, enjoy, and even share those objects, papers, and other possessions that hold meaning for us. It's a kind of simultaneous attitude of cherishing and letting go, and it's actually all sorts of cool.
Give it a look, and maybe give it a try. You might find there's something to be said for a comprehensive life edit every now and again, even without a deadline! If you're feeling trendy, check this out.
Lucy Titterington is a writer, mother and creative director based in London. You can see more of her words in action at lulutitters.com.