Created by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant, the KonMari method is a simple but effective tidying method that has appealed to many people around the world. According to this minimalist approach, decluttering and cleaning the house should be done at once instead of in small steps. One of the underlying principles of the KonMari method is that one should keep only those things that are close to the heart and should discard all items that no longer spark joy.
But, what if everything sparks joy? Or, what if you suddenly seem to have an emotional attachment to an item that you’ve been meaning to discard?
In this world, there are people who are more attached to the things in their houses than to their loved ones. This is because of all the memories they attach to those things. As a result, the concept of getting rid of their stuff at once can be overwhelming and stressful.
The KonMari method is actually quite practical. When you have reached middle age, for example, you have accumulated stuff that you don’t need anymore and Marie Kondo asks us to part with these things. However, according to experts, the attachments to our things can deepen with the passage of time. When human beings experience stress, or anxiety or go through things like heartbreak or the loss of a loved one, they start seeking emotional solace from material objects in the house. Whether it’s a decorative pillow, an old vase or your kid’s old stuffed doll, some people feel as though they need these things in order to be happy. They are thus unable to comply with the principles of the KonMari method as getting rid of their things at once would deprive them of happiness.
However, Swedish death cleaning might be a solution for these people!
What Is Swedish Death Cleaning?
Swedish death cleaning is nothing like the KonMari method. Unlike other cleaning approaches, death cleaning is about delightfully going through things and remembering their worth.
The term originates from a Swedish word –döstädning – where “do” means death and “standing” means cleaning. It introduces the concept of decluttering –the practice of removing unnecessary things –by forcing you to think of how you would clean and organize your house if the time for you to leave the earth was coming closer. The truth is we all have lots of stuff in our house that we are not ready to give away yet. But, when you know your “time” is getting closer, you will be ready to complete that overwhelming task.
So, the basic idea behind this Swedish cleaning concept is that you deal with your “unnecessary” items so that your loved ones are not burdened with this task. The origins of this concept can be traced back to a book, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter” by Margareta Magnusson. The author came up with this decluttering concept when she lost her parents and husband and had to figure out what to do with their possessions. According to her, we can’t get ourselves to get rid of things to which we are emotionally attached until we are faced with an ultimatum like death. She claimed that the fear of death and the fear of burdening our loved ones are the only reasons why we would embrace the decluttering approach.
However, this cleaning concept isn’t as morbid as it sounds. While it may sound like some kind of crime scene cleanup, it revolves around answering the question, “Will anyone be happier if I save this?”
This question is profound, but as per Margareta Magnusson, the answer is not. This would then encourage you to declutter.
A continuation of this article and more information about the principles of Swedish death cleaning will be published in part 2!