(Photo by Birgitta Malmstedt --see link below.)
A good friend of mine who has recently been to Sweden (thank you, GB) informs me that there is a whole movement in Sweden that sounds like the equivalent of slow downsizing. In Swedish it is called “döstädning,” which translated, means “death cleaning.” It is not about getting rid of things after someone dies, but rather making decisions about your own possessions that will keep others from the burden of having to do all that work.
A new book on this topic will be coming out in January, and I am eager to read it. The Gentle Art of Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson. The author makes it clear that this activity can be performed by anyone at any stage in life. But I particularly like the term “death cleaning” because it doesn’t mince words (although it does sound much nicer in Swedish.)
An article from Business Insider and one from the Washington Post (thank you, AS, for the tip!) provide additional summaries of the upcoming book and movement. The Post article says that Magnusson's approach is practical but not rigid.
A piece on döstädning from a blog for which I, even with my non-existent Swedish, surmise is for seniors by Birgitta Malmstedt (reference also courtesy of my friend) contains photos that remind me of my own documentation of downsizing.
It’s heartening to know that other cultures with a surfeit of stuff are struggling with the same issues as we are. But the Swedes seem like they are actually doing something about it.