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My thoughts on Swedish Death Cleaning

Well, first of all, when I originally saw this topic, I assumed it was post death, which seemed like something I wasn’t interested in because by the time I needed it, I’d be dead, right?

Turns out, that’s not what Swedish Death Cleaning (SDC) means at all. It’s basically the same as the “new” thing Marie Kondo has been promoting in her sold-out book and on TV, only she (very considerately) doesn’t use the word “death” – she calls it the KonMari Method (narcissistic, perhaps…).

SDC, which I started practicing a couple years ago - but had titled less gruesomely “Cleaning which prevents your kids from hating you after you’re dead” - is designed for people over 50 to practice. The intent is to get rid of the junk you'e been accumulating for years, BEFORE you kick the bucket and leave that additional mess for your kids.

I say I started practicing it because over the last couple of years I’ve held several big yard sales, and even better, anything left AFTER the yard sales was taken to donation facilities (if I thought it was appropriate) or thrown away. I am known in the yard sale business as the Quarter Queen because when someone asks me how much something is, my usual answer is “a quarter.” Which makes my yard sales very popular.

It took me nearly 60 years to let all my absolutely fabulous stuff go for prices like that, even though a lot of what I sold was given to me over the years, was purchased so long ago that there’s a 50/50 chance I only paid a quarter for it, anyway or, in case of clothes, I haven’t fit into it in decades (honestly, few people with any style would be caught dead in it - still, somehow, someone is probably going to buy it!).

With SDC, and KonMari, the object is to divest yourself of all things that no longer bring you joy. Now, I want to clarify that you must think this through logically and when in a calm state. Just because you’re pissed off at your spouse at the moment, you really should stop and ponder a bit more before you consign them to the yard sale, or try

to donate them.

I used to collect Cookie Jars and eventually had nearly 90 of them, despite my husband’s plea to switch to thimbles instead. My kids eagerly checked each jar for cookies, but were always disappointed. But I digress. My family is full of collectors which made it easy to accumulate things because everyone knew what they could give you (whether you might actually want it was not a consideration). So I had purchased probably no more than 25% of that collection. One day, as I was dusting the jars in a paid storage unit (due to lack of space) it came to me that I no longer got any joy from the jars. Perhaps I, too, had come to wonder about the lack of cookies, or maybe wondered why the heck I was dusting items that I only got to see if I made a drive across town, during daylight hours, with the correct key, and after stepping over or around a mess of other stuff.

My epiphany. Right there and then.

Now I have 7 jars. They are valuable and/or have very strong memories. I have a bin in our garage full of things I took off the wall when I repainted the living room (2 years ago) and I know those items are due for a yard sale, or a second-hand shop, or possibly even the trash – because clearly I’ve continued to find joy in life despite not seeing those items any more. In fact, when I look around my sparsely-decorated living room, I find joy in not seeing what had, over the years, become clutter. Clutter with stories, but still, clutter.

My question to you today is – do you find joy when you look around your house and yard? And remember the thing about spouses! If not, simplify your life. Give anything that belongs to your kids to your kids and let them decide if they really care about their grade school spelling test. Gain some spending money - and don’t spend it on more STUFF! Take a vacation. Read a book (and donate it after). Have a nice dinner out. JUST LET IT GO. EnJOY life.

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