The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Europe has always held a special place in the American imagination and we tend to jump on board with many European trends, especially those from Scandinavia.  

Witness the power of Hygge, which has made decorating a much cozier affair. Devotees of Hygge, a Danish concept, incorporate warm and cozy touches into their lives and homes such as candles, throws and hot tea.  

Now, comes a very useful idea from Sweden: dostadning, which is otherwise known as “death cleaning.” 

Promoted by a Margareta Magnusson book called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaningdostadning is the practice of letting go of possessions during your later years. Rather than being a morbid idea, it’s encouraged for people 65 and older as a mindful way to simplify life.  

If you’re interested in exploring this concept, start in the storage areas of your home. Think about why you’re saving things, and recognize that all those things could end up being a burden to family members who will need to deal with them once you’re gone. Let other people help you with this process, and focus on giving things away to bless others and simplify your life. Make sure to get rid of anything that could be upsetting to family members who will be going through your home after you die.  

While you’re doing all this minimalizing, consider some other good practices to make your life simpler and your house cleaner. In the process, you’ll create a better situation for your loved ones after you’re gone. 

  • Photograph things you no longer need but that you’d like to have recorded  
  • For the things you’d like to keep until your death, consider who you’d like to leave them to and write it down  
  • Make a list of internet accounts and passwords to help your family manage   
  • Do some emotional decluttering: say things that need to be said and let go of negative feelings  

Practicing dostadning is a good way to alleviate stress for your family when they’re already dealing with the grief and pain of your loss. Another way to help your loved ones through that difficult time is by preplanning. Preplanning saves your family from the responsibility of making hard choices at a difficult time. It can even save your loved ones money, because you can lock in today’s prices for a future need.  

At Chapel of the Chimes Oakland, we’ve been helping people with preplanning for more than a century. Call 510.379.5200 to learn more about how we can help. 

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