Review: The Gentle Art of Swedish
January 15, 2018
David McConkeyWe baby boomers (and older folks) have an important task: coming to grips with our own possessions and our own living spaces. One goal: decluttering to get ready for those coming after us. Here is where a new book from Sweden can come in handy for those of us who are sorting, downsizing, moving, and generally preparing for our ultimate ending.
The book, by Margareta Magnusson, is The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.
Magnusson’s book joins other international practical and philosophical perspectives on dealing with our worldly goods. Perhaps you have heard of the book by Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Are you familiar with the idea of holding up an object and considering if it gives you joy? That’s Kondo.
But back to “death cleaning,” which as it turns out, is an actual word in Swedish: döstädning. It combines – naturally enough – the word, dö, “death,” with städning, “cleaning.” And, remember that the decluttering message of death cleaning is relevant for people of all ages and stages. “Death cleaning,” the author says, “is not about dusting or mopping up; it is about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly.”
Author Magnusson brings us a short, quirky and easy read. “When death cleaning, size really matters,” she writes. “Start with the large items in your home, and finish with the small.” One specific idea: leave photos and letters to the end, or “you will definitely get stuck down memory lane and may never get around to cleaning anything else.”
Sprinkled among her tips for organizing things are her reflections of a life well lived. She describes how she and her international businessman husband lived around the world and raised five children.
Listing her current age as “somewhere between 80 and 100,” Magnusson is now widowed and living back home in Sweden. Enjoying her children and grandchildren, she is downsizing her stuff and moving to a smaller place as part of her own death cleaning.
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