‘Swedish Death Cleaning’ Sounds Terrifying, But It’s Something Everyone Should Consider Doing

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When my grandpa passed away suddenly, we never expected to lose his wife within the following weeks. Afterwards, my parents spent several days in Texas at my grandparents house sorting through all of their belongings, trying to decide what to keep, what to donate, and what could simply be tossed.

It was draining on the entire family, but it’s a situation people so often find themselves in when loved ones pass away. After getting the house cleaned out and up on the market, my parents came back home and started the process of going through their own belongings. I know, morbid, right? But the more I thought about it, I came to appreciate what they were doing; sparing my siblings and I from having to go through the heartache of getting rid of our late parents’ stuff and focusing on what’s most important instead.

That’s where “Swedish Death Cleaning” comes in.


Döstädning, or “death cleaning,” is a method of downsizing and organizing that comes from a Swedish author and artist, Margareta Magnusson– it encourages people over 50 to purge and organize their possessions in hopes that their own children won’t have to feel overburdened by their belongings once they pass.

Magnusson told The Chronicle that it’s not about getting rid of all of your stuff, but about streamlining your life so you only keep the things that truly make you happy.

“Death cleaning is not about dusting or mopping up, it’s about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly.”

The system is built for people over 50, but works for anyone who “wants to simplify and organize their life.” It also isn’t one that you can complete in a day. It’s described as more of a “lifestyle change,” but it’s one that will have a lasting impact on your loved ones.

Colleen Matthews
Raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Colleen grew up cheering on the Razorbacks, fishing with her dad, learning about southern hospitality from her mom, and enjoying the best of The Ozarks. When she's not writing, she's likely spoiling her black lab, playing pranks on her husband, chasing around her nieces and nephews, or rearranging her house.

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