Stylist: Edward Enninful
Sweden's answer to the KonMarie method of tidying and paring down is both pragmatic and morbid. Whereas Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up teaches us to hold onto only the things that spark joy, eventually building a house in which all of our objects make us happy and have a purpose, Death Cleaning is the process by which, basically, you throw out your crap so your kids don't have to do it after you die.
Margareta Magnusson, a Stockholm-based artist in her eighties, is the author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, which will be published in America in January, per the Washington Post. The slim volume is a practical guide to the practice of "Döstädning," a combination of the Swedish words for death and cleaning. Everyone already does death cleaning, going through the objects and artifacts of a loved one after their death, often selling off their furniture and then their house, but the idea in this system is that we should leave behind as little as possible, or at least, not the many thousands of items of junk that Americans often accumulate.
Karin Olofsdotter, the Swedish ambassador to the United States, told the Washington Post that her parents are in the process of death cleaning back home. The article explains that "part of Swedish culture is living independently and never being a burden to anyone. How you keep your home is a statement of that."
Rather than leaving things for your kids to fight over, fret over, fear to throw out or just have to deal with after your passing, we should aspire to put our affairs and our homes in order while we're still among the living.
Is death cleaning going to ignite the same revolution as the KonMarie method? It's already popping up in the New York Post and LifeHacker. But the mall remains an obstacle. The biggest thing standing between Americans and minimalism has never been "pack-ratting;" it's shopping. Because however much we get rid of, well, there's always more to buy.