Swedish Death Cleaning

Not long ago, someone asked me if I’m still on my “no shopping” challenge and yes, yes I am. Only about 2 and a half months to go, not that I’m counting or anything. Well, I wasn’t counting – it’s been much easier than I thought it would be. For one thing, you may remember that clothing acquired in the form of Christmas and birthday gifts was still perfectly acceptable, and I received a few lovely things for my birthday from both my mom and my husband. I haven’t been tempted at all to purchase new clothes, until yesterday.

Yesterday I met my best friend (HI TARA) for lunch at a restaurant in the mall, and as I walked back to my car I stopped to look at a display in a shoe store. New sandals! In the Soundtrack of My Life, I could hear Tempted by the fruit of another…in my mind. They were so cute, and just the kind of thing I like: comfortable looking sole, black, with nothing between the toes. I swear if the salesperson on duty had been good at his job, I would have walked out with a pair. But happily for me and my apparent lack of willpower, the salesperson ignored me and so I left. I went home, opened my closet, and looked at all the pairs of sandals I have that are, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same as the ones in the store, the main difference being the ones in my closet were not new.

I think I’m going to make it after all.

A few weeks ago I read The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning and while I was attracted to it because of its title – DEATH CLEANING – I found reading it to be quite delightful, despite the somewhat grim subject matter. Death cleaning is what happens after someone dies and the writer, a woman who seems to be about ninety, very cleverly and wittily writes about her experiences in that area and how she is preparing for her eventual demise. Our material consumption, she says cheerfully, will most likely destroy the planet but does not have to destroy our relationships with the people who will be death cleaning for us when the time comes. I guess that is one way to look at things.

The author’s absolute zest for life and sense of humour makes me wish she lived here and was in my Seniors’ Yoga class. She sounds like a doll.

“There is enough sadness already” – this woman is my spirit animal!

I don’t anticipate death cleaning for anyone anytime soon – knock on wood a thousand times – and I fervently hope my own death cleaning will be many decades away, but it’s an interesting concept, keeping things in your house that only bring you joy and/ or are useful to you right now. From my own experiences of Kondo-ing the house and my life, and this whole One Year Shopping Challenge, I have found that I am indeed much more conscious of the things I bring into the house. I want to be very aware of the things I consume; I want my house to be filled with lovely and joyful things, yes, but not items that will eventually end up in a landfill. I mean, as much as possible, everything probably will end up in a landfill at some point; see above quote by the Swedish Death Cleaning Lady. I am also much more aware of my tendency to hoard things, which is a completely unnecessary and ridiculous tendency. I live in walking distance from two grocery stores and a Walmart; I can drive to Superstore in ten minutes and Costco in less than twenty. If at some point I get low on bathroom cleaner, I can go out and buy bathroom cleaner, I do not need to have several bottles in backup. With the notable exception of cereal, I have become very good at not buying multiples of household staples. ONE backup is enough of everything. Except cereal, I think there’s about fifteen boxes of different kinds of Kashi and Mini-Wheats in the pantry.

What can I say, we go through a lot of cereal and when it goes on sale, I like to stock up. DON’T JUDGE I HAVE MY LIMITS. It will all get eaten, all of it.

But speaking of things that spark joy, check out this adorable trio given to me from some very dear friends (HI SAMMI HI RICK):

They are living on the hutch in the kitchen and believe me when I tell you they Spark Joy in a Very Big Way. They make me smile every time I look at them, which is several times a day. Look at their blissed-out froggy faces! They are aspirational, in an amphibious sort of way.


  1. bibliomama2 says

    Oh, I love the bendy frogs! What a lovely perfect gift. I’m with you on the trying to hoard less, and on the failing with one pantry item, which for us is crackers, although I’ve done much better since the Great Cracker Purge of Christmas 2015, mostly because I never want to see that look of horror on my daughter’s face again (so many boxes of stale crackers, Nicole, so many). I had a great purge streak going in January and then I got sad and tired and I’m just starting to feel up to getting back to it. Also, I’m going to read this book, because she sounds lovely.

  2. Well thank heavens the shoe salesperson was indifferent about his job. Saved by mediocrity.

  3. I think this is yet another book to look up on the library app! 🙂

  4. I have been keeping this book in my Amazon cart for months now, and I think you have tipped me over into finally actually BUYING the thing. It sounds so HARD, though. I am a packrat and that is power nearly impossible to resist.

    Good on you for resisting the shoes!

  5. I keep hearing about this book and should really read it. I’ve been thinking a lot about all the stuff I own and trying to cut back on the amount we purchase and the amount that personally belongs to me because I don’t want my family to have to deal with it all when I go (which hopefully won’t be any time soon either but it does hang over our heads constantly). But at the same time I want to live and enjoy life and probably shouldn’t have bought that 2 meters of fabric the other day when I haven’t sewn in forever but… oops. As long as I make something out of it, right?

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