’Til death us do part

Move over Marie Kondo, there’s a new de­clut­ter­ing phi­los­o­phy sweep­ing through, writes Robyn Willis

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - STYLE - More The Gen­tle Art Of Death Clean­ing, $24.99, Scribe

If you’ve ever been given the dif­fi­cult task of clear­ing out a de­ceased rel­a­tive’s house, the lat­est de­clut­ter­ing move­ment will make per­fect sense to you.

Swedish death clean­ing works on the premise that any­thing you keep will need to be dealt with by your fam­ily af­ter you’ve, ahem, moved on. This lat­est ap­proach to liv­ing with less has been sparked by the re­lease of a book, The Gen­tle Art Of Swedish Death Clean­ing by Mar­gareta Mag­nus­son.

The au­thor, who de­scribes her­self as be­ing be­tween the ages of 80 and 100, says we all have too many things and it makes sense to steadily clear them out.

Keep it mov­ing

Speak­ing with the au­thor­ity of some­one who has moved 17 times, the for­mer artist says death clean­ing should start once you hit your 50s, as you slowly clear out things you no longer need.

She sug­gests telling fam­ily and friends of your plans as a way of keep­ing your­self ac­count­able and on track. Like most de­clut­ter­ing ex­perts, in­clud­ing Ja­panese or­gan­i­sa­tion guru Marie Kondo, Mar­gareta has a ‘love it or lose it’ ap­proach to help­ing you de­cide what to keep and what to toss.

In ad­di­tion, she sug­gests think­ing about what might — and might not — ap­peal to those who are left to clean up af­ter you’re gone. Mar­gareta has her own ‘throw away’ box, mostly full of old let­ters, that she ex­pects will go straight into the bin on her pass­ing.

The facts of life

While some might find it all a lit­tle mor­bid, Mar­gareta rea­sons that death is just a part of life and de­clut­ter­ing now is a gift to your fam­ily later on. “When you are not around any­more, your fam­ily will have to clean up a lot of stuff and I don’t think that’s fair,” she says. And while most of us ex­pect to live long and healthy lives, Mar­gareta de­scribes the re­lief of rid­ding your­self of things you no longer love or have a use for. For those strug­gling with the con­cept or find­ing it hard to let go, Mar­gareta says plan­ning some­thing en­joy­able to do is a great way of re­ward­ing your de­clut­ter­ing ef­forts. Although a shop­ping spree is prob­a­bly not the best op­tion.

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