Recently a book began floating around the office, as they occasionally do. One person reads it and passes it on and before you know it the book lands on my desk. I am a sucker for reading a good book!

And this book is totally different from any other book that has come across my desk.

While reading this book I have come to the realization that I come from a long line of “keepers”. Not hoarders, mind you, just “keepers”. And I am becoming one of them.

With each year I tend to keep more and more things that have some sort of sentimental meaning or value. But what will happen to all of this stuff when I am no longer able to keep it? And will the kids ultimately care if I keep their cute little green shoes they wore to Easter in 2011?

The Most Random of Books

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson, is the most random book to have ever come across my desk. And, believe it or not, it is likely the single most useful book I have ever read.

And it was this statement that truly hit home to me:

Do not ever imagine that anyone will wish- or be able- to schedule time off to take care of what you didn't bother to take care of yourself. No matter how much they love you, don't leave this burden to them.

Margareta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Why Swedish Death Cleaning?

A year or so ago I became a huge fan of Marie Kondo and her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Her method is all about keeping items that spark joyful feelings and then organizing them in minimal ways.

However, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is more about decluttering with one purpose in mind: to not leave an unnecessary mess for others to clean up.

In the next two months I will turn forty. Forty! I once thought that age to be old, but it doesn't seem so bad. One of the things that I secretly dread most about turning forty is realizing that my lifespan is technically half fulfilled.

Swedish Death Cleaning: Do This One Thing Before You Die So Your Kids Don't Have To.
Swedish Death Cleaning Sounds Overwhelming. But It's Not!

Simply Starting

Even though I am young-ish and do not plan to die anytime soon, I do think it is important to minimize my mess. I certainly do not want to burden my husband, children or parents with this clean-up project.

So, I am starting a Swedish Death Cleanse. But, when I think of my house and all of the “stuff” inside of it, I am unable to decide where to start. Do I start with the junk drawers? The boxes in the attic? Or do I start with the closets? Seriously, the options are overwhelming.

But, as with walking, simply placing one foot in front of the other is progress. And, in her book, Margareta Magnusson suggests simply starting with items by the door. That's it- things by the door.

But which door? Well, for me it is the garage door.

Our garage seems to be the catch-all. Old shoes, discarded outdoor toys and even old furniture somehow finds it's way out there. And now that our kids' feet have stopped growing and they no longer play with toys, it seems like the perfect place to start with a definite decision of “yes, keep” or “no, donate”. And just look at the progress!

Swedish Death Cleaning is one thing you should do before you die so your kids don't have to
Swedish Death Cleaning Progress

This is the look of a tired mom, y'all. But, just look at all of that in the back of my car! It is not a lot, but it is a start. And today, simply starting, is all that matters. I have a piece of furniture, a trash bag full of old shoes and some other discarded items. This is just enough to motivate me to keep on!

Donating Those Useful Items

I have a hard time throwing discarded items away. Additionally, I love the idea of my discarded items bringing joy or usefulness to someone else. So I prefer to donate them. And, I will say, after an initial run to a donation center, I am feeling super motivated to do the next thing.

And it is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time.

Not far from my home is the cutest Free Little Library! It is just too cute, isn't it? It just screams for me to stop and drop books off every time I pass by!

Swedish Death Cleaning: Do this one thing before you die so your kids don't have to
Free Little Library – A Great Place to Donate Previously Enjoyed Books

Isn't it the cutest? I have no clue who created this, but they did an amazing job!

So I declare NOW the time to stop and drop books my children will no longer read. Yes, I did keep a box of special ones and put them in the attic, hopeful to read them to future grandchildren. But most of them are in this cute little library box, just waiting for someone else to enjoy.

Swedish Death Cleaning: Do this one thing before you die, so your kids don't have to
Swedish Death Cleaning- Donating Pre-Enjoyed Books to a Little Free Library is a Great Idea

My Next Steps

Now that I can finally see most of my garage, I am working on my junk drawer. Because, let's face it, nobody wants to clean out that junk drawer for me.

I do plan to share my journey through this death cleaning process with you. AND I also plan to let you know exactly how my parents react to receiving this book for Christmas. How do you think they will react? Would you give it to your parents as part of their Christmas gifts? Drop me a line and let me know!

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5 Comments

  1. I love this concept! We lost both grandparents on my dad’s side, my mom’s dad, and my mom’s uncle in the last two years. All of those houses were left to be cleaned out for my parents and their siblings. This makes so much sense to me after how much my family had to deal with that shouldn’t have fell to them! Great post! I also love that little library!

  2. Stephanie Pick Reply

    What a fascinating idea! I love clearing out unwanted things hidden in the cupboards, it makes you feel so much lighter! Thanks for sharing, I will have to check out this book!

  3. I’ve heard about this concept last year and love it. It makes it so much easier for the family.

  4. My husband and I have had to handle the belongings of family members more times than we’d like. So, I have often thought that I should be better about our own things with this in mind. But I go though spurts and donate boxes and boxes and organize. Then nothing for months. Thanks for the reminder to get myself back in gear.

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