Notes & Quotes: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

The following are my favorite quotes from Margareta Magnusson's The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.

  1. Death cleaning is not about dusting or mopping up; it is about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly.
  2. Going through all your old belongings, remembering when you used them last, and hopefully saying good-bye to several of them is very difficult for many of us. People tend to hoard rather than throw away.
  3. Your exhaustion will all this stuff may appear out of the blue one day. When someone cancels a weekend visit or a dinner, you feel grateful--instead of disappointed--because you may be too tired to clean up for their visit. The problem is that you have too much stuff to deal with. It is time to change your way of living.
  4. Do not ever imagine that anyone will wish--or be able--to schedule time off to take care of what you didn't bother to take care of yourself. No matter how much they love you, don't leave this burden to them.
  5. Life will become more pleasant and comfortable if we get rid of some of the abundance. 
  6. Even in a fairly small family, one or several members wander about looking for keys, gloves, certificates, or cell phones. Whatever. All these things have something in common! They should, but don't yet, have a place of their own. Give everything a place and you won't feel angry, irritated, or desperate when leaving the house.
  7. To hunt for misplaced things is never an effective use of your time. So, work to keep things organized throughout your life, and death cleaning will be easier for everyone. Your loved ones will not be happy people when they have to do your organizing for you.
  8. Had I cleaned with my husband, it would have taken us years. Men tend to save most things rather than throw them away. That goes for even the smallest nuts and bolts. They think, and rightly sometimes, that every little thing will be useful at some later occasion.
  9. A loved one wishes to inherit nice things from you. Not all things from you.
  10. You really can't take everything with you, so maybe it is better to not try to own it all.
  11. There's no sense in saving things that will shock or upset your family after you are gone.
  12. To let things, people, and pets go when there is no better alternative is a lesson that has been very difficult for me to learn and a lesson that life, as it goes further along, is teaching me more and more often.
  13. The more I have focused on my cleaning, the braver I become. I often ask myself, "Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?" If after a moment of reflection I can honestly answer "no", then it goes into the hungry shredder, always waiting for paper to chew. But before it goes into shredder, I have had a moment to reflect on the event or feeling, good or bad, and to know that is has been a part of my story and of my life.
  14. It is hard for me to understand why most people find death so difficult to talk about. It is the only absolutely inevitable happening that we all have in our future.