Is it Time for some Swedish Death Cleaning?

Don’t let the title scare you?  It doesn’t mean that you are planning your death anytime soon.  It means that when you are well and you have more time to focus on your home and belongings, this is the time to really assess every area of your home. Celebrate your life and then make decisions about what you absolutely need  and want to keep. What do you want to leave behind for others to sort through and to make decisions on?

“Think about what you want to leave behind for others to have to clear out or go through”

Most of you probably know that my dad passed away this year and my mom just recently went into a Care Home. We (I have three siblings) have been clearing out their home in order to sell it. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy process because my mom had not been bringing anything out of her home. It has been quite emotional for me as I slowly go through all of my moms items and try to understand why she felt it was so important to keep certain things. I am sure she was not thinking about us having to clear it all out.

This process has really helped me to think about my own belongings and what I want to leave behind. I recently pulled out some boxes that have not been looked at in a very long time and found some items that I didn’t even know I had.  I also came across some things that were all about my daughter who passed away at age 17 due to some physical health issues that she had.  My partner found me in a puddle on the floor when she came home from work one day but I told her it was all good.  It’s just something that only you can go through yourself.  And sometimes it’s just necessary.  And it’s totally okay to be sad and to cry.

Your memories are inside of you

Yes I was able to donate this collection. Please don’t judge me! My memories of my daughter do not reside in this collection and I do not have the space or interest in displaying them. I am happy that someone else will now enjoy them.

Certain things are harder than others. ie: Journals, greeting cards and old letters received from friends and loved ones, autograph books, gifts or heirlooms from loved ones who have passed and don’t get me started on photographs.  I am sure you can come up with so much more……..

Give Yourself Time

You will want to allow yourself time to work through these things because It will bring up all the feels. This work is very emotional.  You likely wouldn’t have saved all of these things if you didn’t have a history and a story or feel some kind of attachment to them.  These items bring up all kinds of memories for us that can be revisited and cherished. You can make decisions about them when you are ready or not.

A precious gift that I received from my mom for my 50th birthday was a photo book she put together for me which included little sayings and quotes.  She also gave me a box with letters and cards, report cards, some badges, etc.  This was such a thoughtful and most appreciated gift.  Why do we want to keep all these things buried or forgotten in a cupboard or closet? This is the thing you want share with others when you are alive.  This is the time to look at some of those things that might be hard.  Celebrate those moments.  

A popular book to learn more about Swedish Death Cleaning is “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson get it here

Would you like to work with me? I can help you to make more space in your life for what is important to you. I can work with you virtually so you are able to do the work yourself but with guidance from me. Let’s chat over coffee. Book a free 20 minute call with me today to see if we are a good fit.

What are the things that are hardest for you to let go of? Would love to hear from you. Please comment below.

About Kim

I’m Kim, your go-to Professional Organizer and Virtual Coach! I’m beyond excited to embark on this clutter-free adventure with you. With a background in mental health and a passion for transforming spaces, I bring a holistic approach to decluttering. It’s not just about neatening up physical spaces; it’s about fostering a mindset shift that radiates throughout your life. I founded Space For You Clear the Clutter, Heal Your Life and have been working with individuals and groups for about 15 years. I've also trained with Professional Organizers of Canada and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.
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18 Responses to Is it Time for some Swedish Death Cleaning?

  1. You’ve had a lot of loss, Kim. My heart goes out to you.

    It’s never easy to go through a loved one’s belongings and making the hard decisions that they didn’t or couldn’t at the time. You are so right that certain things are
    more difficult to make decisions on than others. I agree that when the inspiration or mood comes, it a perfect time to get started.

  2. I thought this book brought a very healthy perspective to the process of decluttering and preparing for the end of life that we ALL face.

    I love what you said about your daughter’s cat collection. You won’t forget about your daughter, love her less, or in any way dishonor her by not keeping the cats. In fact, you honor her more by letting someone who loves them see and enjoy them!

    I do find that we all have our particular areas that are “harder” to deal with, and that’s ok. There are book people, clothing people, handbag people, etc. Begin with what feels easier, and then move into the tougher categories once you’ve strengthened your “letting go” muscles!

  3. My heart goes out to you, Kim. So much loss- your dad, daughter, family home. Revisiting the ‘stuff’ belonging to our loved ones can be beautiful, but as you said, it can also bring up so many emotions and tears. I love how you honor all of your emotions as they arise and allow space to sit and be with them.

    It’s not easy to make decisions about life’s stuff- especially when it belonged to those no longer here. I’ve read the Death Cleaning book and appreciated her approach to taking responsibility for your things so that your loved ones don’t have to.

    Several years ago, I cleared out my parents’ house after my dad had passed, and we moved my mom (with dementia) into an assisted living facility. It was hard. But somewhere in the process of editing, documenting, figuring out who wanted what, and packing up, I let go of more than only the stuff. I was able to give the home and that period of time a letting go of sorts too. I made my peace and was able to move on. Similar to you, it’s made me think and take action on my own stuff. I’m working on a ‘live with less” mode.

    I wish you love and comfort as you find your way forward.

    • Kim says:

      Thank you so much Linda. It’s always so good to hear that others go through the same or similar situations. I truly appreciate your comment.

  4. I’m a fan of this style of decluttering. My husband and I started but it takes time. I agree to pass yourself and work through the home is best.

    • Kim says:

      Hi Sabrina, Definitely takes time to go through belongings that may not have been looked at in a long time. The time to start is NOW.

  5. Thank you for showing such strength in sharing your vulnerability. Loss is so difficult, and the fact that you’re using your resilience in the face of these experiences to help others understand the downsizing process is going to be a comfort to so many others.

    I hope that these things become easier for you, and thank you for reminding everything that one’s connection to the people we love is unrelated to simple possessions.

  6. Ellen McLean says:

    Thanks Kim. This is great. I shared this on Face book.

  7. I’m sorry for your losses. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability.

    Sometimes you have to take your time with the clutter clearing process. Something you weren’t ready to let go of through the first pass, you may be ready to find a new home for in later passes.

  8. I loved reading Swedish Death Cleaning and refer to it often when explaining to clients the idea of letting go now instead of later. I also read a book called They Left Us Everything, which had a similar story you told about adult children cleaning out their parent’s house. We should learn to let go.

    • Kim says:

      I read both of those books and I loved them both. I really loved the second one too. It is a true story and the house is near Toronto, Canada. It had been there family home for many years. I believe it took her a year or longer to clear out. What a process.

  9. Lucy Kelly says:

    That title does scare me! But that speaks more to how much we push the inconvenient fact that we’ll all die to the side than anything else. I’m so sorry for your loss and for the heavy work you’re going through, Kim.

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