A charming approach to putting your life in order so your loved ones won’t have to. There’s a word for it in Swedish: Döstädning, literally, ‘death cleaning’.
Swedish-born Margareta Magnusson is, in her words, ‘aged between 80 and 100’. When her husband died, she had to downsize her home. The experience forced her to recognise the power of ‘death cleaning’ and the concerns that must be addressed in order to do it with thought and care. Done well, the approach not only makes things easier for your loved ones later on, it allows you to revisit the lifetime of memories accumulated with your things.
From clothes and books to stuff you just can’t get rid of, stuff that only matters to you, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning offers indispensable advice on questions you will inevitably face when sorting through a lifetime of objects: How do you deal with your secrets? Tackle photographs and letters? Avoid heirs fighting over your belongings after you are gone? This charming, practical book based on personal experience and anecdotes will guide you in making the process uplifting rather than overwhelming: it focuses on the importance of living — even through death cleaning.
‘Proustian … A primer on how to winnow your belongings before you die, so you don’t burden your family … Ms. Magnusson is the anti-Kondo, who takes us on a charming and discursive tour of her own stuff.’
The New York Times
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‘A slim yet sage volume … While Japanese item-control diva Marie Kondo gave us strict instructions to only keep things that spark joy, Magnusson’s book is straightforward and unsentimental (with a bit of humour). The main message from this mother of five is: Take responsibility for your items and don’t leave them as a burden for family and friends.’
The Washington Post
‘Magnusson shares solid guiding principles for organising your home, no matter your age or life circumstance.’
‘Magnusson has something worthwhile and amusing to say to adults of all ages … This is not an orderly book for people who like dot points and detailed instructions, but a meandering personal essay that weaves memoir with household tips and a calm philosophy.’
Susan Wyndham, Weekend Australian
‘If you love Marie Kondo, Swedish Death Cleaning may be for you … feels especially relevant these days …The idea of death cleaning is to simply organise your everyday life to make it run more smoothly. People of any age can benefit from that!’
‘Packed with positive and practical suggestions, this slim volume could change your life.’
‘Scandinavian author Margareta Magnusson has realised that having loads of possessions can really weigh a person, couple, or family down, and her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, which isn’t as spooky as it sounds, has become a phenomenon.’
New Zealand Herald
‘[In] The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Swedish author Margareta Magnusson encourages a mature and matter-of-fact approach to life ... it encourages conversations about what is really of value and what others will truly treasure when you are gone.’
Australian House & Garden