The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter
© 2018 Margaret Magnusson
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, for old time is still a-flying. While you’re at it, why don’t you clean the house? The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning has nothing to do with the funerary business. Instead, it appeals to those in their advanced years, and even to those presumably quite far from them, urging such readers to consider the stuff that fills their homes, and to evaluate whether it’s something they truly need. If not, let it go – and if so, make plans for what’s to be done with it what’s left. Death-cleaning, then, is minimalism meets memento mori.
I decided to read this book not because I’m eying the grave (though I do maintain a current will and life insurance, just in case), but because this is year two of my efforts to move closer towards minimalism in my own life, and I was seeking both ideas and encouragement. Magnusson’s text, though, proved largely redundant for me personally, having read other books on minimalism. Hers marks itself by pitching stuff-reduction as a charitable gesture, intended to make things easier on those who survive us. If we get rid of the record collection we don’t listen to, or go ahead and destroy the files that stopped being useful fifteen years ago, children, niblings, and other survivors won’t have to. She also echoes the sentiment of A Life Less Throwaway: if we remove that in our lives that doesn’t constantly enrich it, then our enjoyment of our homes, and our quality of life will improve — no longer burdened by the stress of having to move and manage stuff, allowing us to be surrounded by joy instead of problems.
Although it didn’t do much for me, I think for those who haven’t read anything similar it would prove useful. As it was, I learned a bit about Swedish culture.