What Is “Swedish Death Cleaning” and Should We Be Doing It?

It’s no secret that the Swedes do some things better than other countries, including work-life balance, green living, and style and design. There’s one other thing they do better than anyone else: end-of-life cleaning. It’s not as morbid as it sounds. It’s actually quite practical. Once Swedes reach the end of middle age, they get rid of all the things they’ve accumulated and don’t need anymore — all so someone else doesn’t have to do it once they’re gone. In Swedish it’s called döstädning — a combination of the word “dö” (which means death) and “standing” (which means cleaning). Death cleaning isn’t about dusting or mopping; it’s about a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly. The benefit, of course, is to your loved ones, who aren’t stuck cleaning out your things once you’ve passed on. Psychologically, minimalism is based on the idea that happiness doesn’t come from stuff, but rather from relationships and experiences. So, when you get rid of the excess stuff surrounding you, you can better identify the things that are really important to you and what brings you pleasure in your life.