It does sound macabre, but Margareta Magnusson’s book– The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, really is for the living. If any of you have followed the Konmari method to declutter lives, this one takes it a step further. It forces you to live in a way that makes you want to embrace minimalism in life. This is what it means:

In Sweden, there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you.

The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning By Margareta Magnusson

Döstädning Is For The Living – To Help Heal

Like most things, this isn’t about death or dying, but about living differently. It makes you gently go through the confines of your own imagination, and a stack of your belongings to ask yourself- do I really need this? Imagine if someone today was to go through your room and your belongings. What are the things that would embarrass you or make you flinch? It’s the all or nothing attitude – what would you let go of and what would you keep?

This is no easy task. We associate memories with the smallest little details. From school art projects to gifts from old boyfriends, to something you inherited from your grandmother, to little high school notes you passed along, what’s important? Going through all this clutter and finding a signal through the noise could potentially be a long, long project. But it’s also empowering to find what matters most. And if you were no more, what would you like to pass along?

the gentle art of swedish death cleaning

My Grandmother Shared Her Treasures

My grandmother went through a simple process of opening up her treasured trunks and sharing the fanciness in it with the family. I famously inherited a non-descript watch from my grandfather (that I asked for), and a zardosi jacket that my grandmother wore when she got married. My husband wears the watch (till I am cool enough to embrace a unisex style) and the jacket is a few sizes too small for me. Why do I still hang on to these? Or to jewelry I bought from flea markets years ago as a student. That’s a question for a long weekend of soul searching, that this book offers.

What do you feel needlessly attached to? What would you let go? Time to get ready for some inspired reading!


Everdays makes conversations around death accessible to everyone. It connects you with friends and family at a time of loss.