Death Cleaning

 

An elderly client of mine has a cello for sale. She asked if I knew anyone who would be interested—a special someone who could properly appreciate a rare, gorgeous, 400-year old treasure.

A retired musician and music teacher, she is no longer able to play much except for an occasional short jam session on her beloved piano. She has other instruments, stacks of sheet music, and many other items that make her home feel cluttered, especially now that she’s having some trouble getting around. Little by little, she is trying to find new homes for things she still loves but can no longer use.

She confided in me that as she began to itemize which of her belongings she was ready to part with, one of her adult children complained, “MOM, you’re not DYING!”

Truthfully, she is in declining health. But even if she weren’t, I reassured her that it’s actually a great idea to deal with these things NOW! If it’s something she truly can’t use anymore, and it could bring someone else happiness, then she could spread joy, and lighten her load, and maybe make some money—a win, win, win!

And right after my conversation with her, an article about “death cleaning” popped into my Facebook feed! From a blog shared on treehugger.com, “In Swedish, the word is ‘dostadning’ and it refers to the act of slowly and steadily decluttering as the years go by, ideally beginning in your fifties (or at any point in life) and going until the day you kick the bucket. The ultimate purpose of death cleaning is to minimize the amount of stuff, especially meaningless clutter, that you leave behind for others to deal with.”

And while it might seem a little morbid at first, the idea has a lot of merit. I know from my own experience, moving into a small house in my 50s and purging stuff in favor of downsizing and living lean was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.

Sources from the “New York Times” to “Forbes” Magazine have been running articles like, “Memo to Parents: Your Kids Don’t Want Your Stuff.” And oftentimes, nobody else wants our parents’ stuff either—except maybe for those serial bargain hunters who frequent estate sales and accumulate stuff that their kids have to sell off in estate sales of their own one day!

Consider this quote by Linda Morman Stichtenoth: “I spent the first 2/3 of my life acquiring stuff that doesn’t matter only so that I can spend the last 1/3 getting rid of it. What a stupid game of consumerism we Americans play.”

Are you ready to do some death cleaning? Go for it!! But if you know of anyone who’s not finished acquiring, who might be in the market for a high-end cello, please let me know!

Category : Blog &Personal Growth Posted on October 18, 2017

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