My mom was a packrat during my childhood. Well, that’s putting it lightly — she kept everything (including McDonald’s receipts) and was not a fan of purging. She’s learned to embrace a slightly-less-cluttered lifestyle over the years, but I sometimes think of what a chore it would be to clean everything out when the time comes (hopefully at some point still far, far in the future).
Maybe my mom’s packrat past is why I took notice when I heard about the latest lifestyle trend known as dostadning.
What is dostadning?
Just like lagom (the “just enough” approach to life) and hygge (creating a “cozy” lifestyle), dostadning is straight out of Scandinavia. It means “death cleaning” in English and means exactly what you think: the process of cleaning out a home before you die instead of leaving it to your family and friends after your death.
Adopting the concept might sound morbid, like you’re just asking death to come knocking, but an author behind an upcoming book on dostadning says it’s actually freeing “because I want to have it nice around me, keep some order.”
“Generally people have too many things in their homes,” Swedish writer Margareta Magnusson says in a YouTube video promoting her new book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death. “I think it’s a good thing to get rid of things you don’t need.”
Dostadning is Marie Kondo on steroids
If the concept of getting rid of stuff sounds familiar, it is: lifestyle guru Marie “KonMari” Kondo created a huge following preaching the benefits of tossing or donating anything you don’t love. Death cleaning follows the same concept, but it’s more about the process of giving away things with meaning — and not collecting things that don’t have a purpose.
And honestly, adopting a death cleaning stance on stuff is also an act of love: Grieving the loss of a parent or close loved one is difficult enough without the added overwhelm of clearing out a ton of stuff.
“One day when you’re not around anymore, your family would have to take care of all that stuff, and I don’t think that’s fair,” says Magnusson.
The perfect time to start death cleaning — or to gently start talking about it with relatives — is when they’re old enough to start questioning their own mortality, according to Magnusson. But, you can honestly approach it as a lifestyle early on.
“Don’t collect things you don’t want,” advises Magnusson.