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Döstädning - Swedish Death Cleaning

Although our next meeting is focussed on probate, it's led to thinking about what we can do to make things easier for those we leave behind who need to manage our general affairs too.

Döstädning, or Swedish Death Cleaning, is a practice that has gained popularity in recent years thanks to its origins in Scandinavian culture. As we strive to improve our overall well-being and find ways to simplify our lives, it's no surprise that we look towards nations like Sweden for inspiration. It seems we want to learn from nations that consistently rank highest in the global happiness index. 

Having learnt about tea breaks (fika) and how to enjoy time away from worries (hygge). Now comes Döstädning. 




Like other “scandi” words it does not translate well. It's a way of organising and decluttering your home before you die to lessen the burden on your loved ones. The term was coined in 2017 by author Margareta Magnussen, in her book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter. In Sweden it is also common to downsize your home well before old age and that gives you an opportunity to de-clutter.  

Döstädning - the basics:

Sort out clothing and personal items keeping only those you really use. Next, get rid of items that occupy the most space. Finally, do not forget about your digital files (so sad to lose photos and videos).

The goal is that you are left with items you love, want, and need. You can start anytime, but the book recommends starting in your 60s,  begin small and easy such as a particular location or a type of item and then do more as you build confidence and sense of accomplishment.  

A tidy life is a great inheritance. Remember if you don’t do it, someone else will have to do it for you!


Mark Braithwaite (lived in Sweden for more than 10 years)

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