A Swedish Aid To Set Life Straight

Feb 8, 2018

We’ve been reading about feng shui for years, a practice for bringing harmony between a person and the place they inhabit.

I’ve followed some of the suggestions about furniture placement and whatnot along the way, but I recently heard about another way to take control and make sense out of your surroundings that makes a difference for you and future generations.

A Swedish tradition called döstädning -- “death cleaning” -- has arrived here in the U.S. Its purpose is to get your life and worldly possessions organized before you depart the firmament.

If I were decades younger, I’d recoil from any practice that had “death” in the name; but, around midlife, our time perspective shifts and we realize that the time we have left is finite and death isn’t as far away as it once was.

If you’ve ever had to sift through an aging or departed parent’s papers and possessions, you probably realize that “death cleaning” could be a very productive practice when you’re still able to do it for yourself.

February’s usually a pretty dreary month, but maybe it’s the right setting to begin a bit of döstädning of your own. Spend a day cleaning out your attic or basement with the purpose of honoring the possessions you’ve collected over the years and then passing along the treasures you no longer need to folks who might cherish them in the present -- which may even overshadow your memory of its presence in your past.

Keeping your memories but letting go of material things can be a great legacy to leave the next generation.

If “death cleaning” makes you squirm, you can call it “life enhancing.”

I’m Suzanne Degges-White, and that’s my perspective.