Starting my Death Cleaning Early
Freeing myself and my family from a lifetime of clutter
Ok, so here’s the facts: I'm a neat freak trapped in a messy person's body, and I really want out! Though I’ve tried for years to break free, I’ve only made main floor advances. What I mean by that is that the main floors of my house are relatively tidy, but take a few steps down into the basement, and you’ll see that I’m still a captive to the mess. It’s embarrassing how much stuff I’ve not cleaned up but just moved downstairs and out of sight. And it’s getting to me. So, when my husband suggested we attempt the Swedish Death Cleanse I was immediately on board.
If you haven’t heard of Swedish death cleaning it’s the relatively simple and kind idea that we shouldn't leave our mess behind for our family to clean up after we die. Instead, it encourages people to gradually and continually go through their belongings and get rid of anything they don't use, need, or love.
The concept comes from the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter, by Margareta Magnusson. As morbid as it sounds, thinking about someone else dealing with all my stuff one day just doesn't sit right with me. I don't want to leave the very thing I dread doing, cleaning out all my extra stuff, for my loved ones. So, Swedish death cleaning has inspired me to finally start taking baby steps to clean out years of accumulated junk.
All that stuff filling up my house just weighs me down, not only physically but spiritually. My heart gets so tangled up in maintaining and protecting my stuff that I’m constantly on edge and thinking about how to move my stuff around to make way for some peace.
Sure, some things remind me of memories and the past. But I don't need to keep boxes of that stuff to help me remember. The Swedish death cleaning approach has made me realize I can let go of the things that remind me and still treasure those memories in my heart.
So, I’m slow. First, I just cleaned out my kitchen towel drawer, then a cabinet in the kitchen. There’s less emotional ties there, so it’s been smooth sailing, but next is the memory factory of the basement. Pray for me! It's not easy, but adopting the Swedish mindset has helped me make baby steps. So, I thought I’d share a few of the things that have helped me to start the next new thing (to me).
Find the Joy
This is not a sad or morbid chore, but one that offers promise. It might seem daunting, but keep your eye on the goal, the gift of kindness to your family and friends. And, remember, that in the end your life really will be less stressful with less stuff to care for.
Say no to bad guilt
Bad guilt is that guilt that tries to convict you for all the stuff you hoarded. It will tell you that you should have done this forever ago, but just say, “No! Today’s the day!” The focus is the choice to give the gift of cleaning up your space to your family. Just remember how grateful they will be not to have to tackle it all while they are grieving the loss of your presence.
Remind yourself, this doesn't have to be done all at once. Take your time and celebrate small victories, like the towel drawer. Feel the excitement!
Consider others first
Ask yourself if you know anyone who would truly want or need this item. Will getting rid of it bless them? Also, just keep in mind that each thing you give away is a step in loving your family. When it feels impossible to let go of something just think about the people you love! Do it for them.
Letting go of excess stuff can be so freeing for everyone involved! It declutters your home, your headspace, and your heart. If you're looking for motivation to finally tackle that clutter, try embracing the Swedish death cleaning mindset. Focus on the lasting things, like God and people, not your stuff. You might just find the messy person inside you starts to make room for the neat freak after all. Let me know how it goes! I could use some company on this journey.
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