Swedish death cleaning is the new way to declutter that has taken the world by a storm, but it's not as grim as it sounds.
It's actually a mindful way to sort through your belongings throughout your life, so that your loved ones aren’t burdened by a plethora of personal items after you die.
There’s a Swedish word for it: Döstädning, which means literally, ‘death cleaning’, and Swedish-born Margareta Magnusson explains the process in her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.
Magnusson advises that the earlier we start the process of ‘death cleaning’, the better, so we’re not overwhelmed with a lifetime of objects by the time we’re elderly people.
In fact, Magnusson believes that the process of decluttering can be therapeutic and freeing, allowing you to live with your most beloved items everyday, without feeling burdened by too much ‘stuff’.
While taking a mindful approach to decluttering isn’t new, Swedish death cleaning forces you to consider which objects will be of value to loved ones after your death.
Magnusson herself, who describes herself as "between 80 and 100 years old", says she has spent the last 40 years cleaning her home in preparation for her death, and that she has "got a lot of pleasure out of it".
So where to start? Avoid anything too personal and sentimental, and begin with clothes and accessories. Work your way through your things, considering what would be of value to your loved ones, while building up to photos and keepsakes.
"My motto for cleaning is simply: If you don't love it, lose it. If you don't use it, lose it," Magnusson told The Local. "My death cleaning has brought back wonderful memories. I wish for other people to have the same experience."
This article originally appeared on Better Homes and Gardens.