The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is a book I recently read. It was written by Margareta Magnusson who says that she is between 80 and 100 but she has no plan to die soon. Sort of like me. She has five children and doesn’t want them faced with the chore of getting rid of a lifetime accumulation of things. Sort of like me.

I’m pleased when I read her suggestions and realize that I’ve already done many of the things she recommends. I’ve called it “downsizing”. My photos are digitized, important papers are filed and easy to find and my closet only holds clothes that I wear. After a life time of collecting things, I’ve spent the past twenty years getting rid of them. There are some things I haven’t quite managed to let go of. Small pieces of china that belonged to my grandmother who died when I was ten. Several damask tablecloths and more than fifty napkins that were also my grandmother’s. There are gifts that I never used but never could give away.

I have two bins of Christmas ornaments that haven’t been opened in years. There is a chasen, a Japanese tea whisk made of bamboo that reminds me of a tea ceremony that I was invited to in Japan. There is the hand embroidered tea towel given to me by a Romanian friend and a stone from Australia. These objects and many more are tucked away, there’s no room for them in our little house. There’s no need for me to keep them for someone else to sort after I’m gone.

It’s time to do some more Döstädning (dö, Swedish for death and städning for cleaning).

One idea that I am going to use is a Throwaway box. Magnusson says that she’s putting things into it that don’t mean anything to anyone else but that are still precious to her. Some love letters, special cards, old photos and small objects.  After she’s gone, she hopes that her family will have no problem tossing the whole box.