Monday, February 26, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Oh, Death Cleaning Lady...

So I'm reading this book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, and I am MOSTLY enjoying the bejeezus out of it.

She is funny, she is snarky, at times it's a little dry and surprising -- after writing about her third death cleaning for someone else (her husband had passed and she was downsizing to an apartment), she said:

"It would have been incredibly nice to have had my husband's company to help me get through emptying our home, my third death cleaning. But it was impossible. He was dead." 

I love the concept -- cleaning and clearing so that if you were to die you wouldn't leave your family and/or friends with a cluttered mess to clean up on your behalf -- you will have already done it mostly yourself, leaving your home with mostly wonderful things you truly love and not, say, leaving a drawer full of exotic dildos for your grandchildren to find (a real example from the book!).

But there is the rub, the MOSTLY. It assumes that you have children, and grandchildren, to give your things to, to go through your stuff after you pass, to save the burden of cleaning up your cluttered home when you pop off.

The assumption runs deep, as she speaks of the wonderful baby clothes her mother hand-made for her  (five) children that she was saving for her own grandchildren, and says:

"I kept some of these items in a box in the attic, in case I was to be blessed by grandchildren. And when grandchildren failed to arrive, I would take the box down remind my lazy children of what I wanted. It worked. I now have eight grandchildren. And no baby clothes in the attic." 


That was the only thing that REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. Ah, I see. All I needed was for a parent to wave my baby clothes in my face and remind me of my unfulfilled promise of grandchildren and POOF! Grandchildren! My god, how freaking lazy must I be?

Fury. Total almost-throwing-the-book-against-the-wall fury. But then again, it's a really nice compact paper-over-board hardcover, so I didn't want to damage it. She redeemed herself with the image of grannies passing away with a hidden stash of dildos in their closets (lesson: keep ONE dildo when you think you may be nearing death, fifteen is too many and an unnecessary shock to your descendants).

It just amazes me how some people are so removed from infertility struggle. And how ever-present it is in my life. And how as I read this book, I think, "My goodness, death cleaning is particularly important for us because WHO WILL BE LEFT to help clean out our stuff when we're gone, given we have no dutiful children to (possibly maybe) take on that task?"

Sigh. (But also, enjoying this whole get-rid-of-clutter kick.)

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!


  1. Oh Gawd lol I can’t NOT imagine finding a stash of dildos in my grandmother’s (or ANYONE, for that matter) closet after they passed away.
    And yeah....I can totally see how you that would have made you want to throw the book. I have never heard of “death cleaning before” and I really have never thought too much about it, except for the random, morbid jokes about all the stuff that came from my grandparents house to my mom’s after they passed away, and along with all the stuff my parents have accumulated what a pain that’s going to be to go through...
    Sorry you keep being reminded in such crappy ways.

  2. In my x365 blog challente this month (, we've been writing about objects. I've written about a number of objects that I inherited from my mother. Another of the x365 bloggers clearly read the same book, because she has talked about her own objects that have survived her "Swedish Death Purge."

    My mother did a form of death cleaning, spending years (after my father died) going through her stuff and throwing out things she didn't need to keep. I am keen to work on decluttering this year to begin that process myself. I figure though that I keep things that will make me happy. If they don't, then I need to give them to someone who will appreciate them - whether that is to someone we know, or by donation, casting them out into the world.

    But yes, that statement about the baby clothes and her "lazy children." Arrrrghh, indeed! Write that in your review on Amazon - maybe she'll read it and learn from it.

  3. I can see how this approach would be highly triggering!

    And, like Charlotte, I can't unimagine the scene of that stash, lol.

  4. There’s an untold story behind those dildos. There has to be (I refuse to believe otherwise).

    But yes to groaning about the baby clothes. I get it, it’s lovely to live in that bubble of assumption, but it makes me a bit ragey too.

  5. The part about taking the boxes down to show her "lazy children" hits me in a different way. Often parents think that it is hilarious to drop non-subtle hints or outright say terrible things to their children because they want grandchildren and don't have them yet. Thankfully this didn't happen to me, but there are a lot of people that don't want to talk about their infertility and getting pressure from loved ones- when they make think it is funny- is the worst. Having my mom shove a box of baby clothes at me while I was trying every month to get pregnant and not succeeding would NOT have helped the situation.

  6. Hardcover or not, I think the book might have gone flying in my house. At the very least I'd have loudly complained to it about all the reasons it sucked. Because, you know, books can hear you when you complain! ;)

    My grandmother was the type of woman who always insisted that I needed to wear clean underwear "because you might be in an accident." I guess the assumption was that I wouldn't want the doctor seeing dirty undies in that case? Anyhow, I always wondered, if she cared that much about my underwear being seen if I was in an accident, what on earth would she think about the rest of my belongings being sorted out by someone else after my death. I'm glad she never read the book, because if she'd gone from talking to me about my underwear to my dildo collection, I might have had a heart attack right there and needed that doctor after all! Some things are not meant to be discussed with grandma!

  7. That’s it. Time to censor my personal articles in the event of my 😉sudden death. You’ll have plenty of other stuff to laugh about when you find it.

  8. I'm fascinated by the whole idea of what we leave behind and who has to clean it up. I know Mali has written about this too. When the elderly lady across the street from us died four years ago, her kids put the entire contents of her house in a dumpster in the space of two days so they could sell the house as quickly as possible. There's this assumption that kids will clean it all up, but I think we all have a responsibility to do what we can before we die, kids or no kids, to minimize the waste. Easier said than done. My Mum has been doing her own death cleaning this past year- downsizing from my childhood home to a much smaller townhouse after my stepfather died. As her executor, I am very grateful.

    The author really did miss the mark with those kid comments though. I'd encourage you to write to her and say so.

  9. Having had to clean/clear my mom's apartment, I can relate. She (thankfully) did a bunch in the years prior to her death.

    The children/grandchildren box of baby clothes comment was insensitive, plain and simple.

  10. Well, SOMEONE's going to have do the job... I'm assuming it will be the nephews &/or (more probably?) their wives, depending on how old everyone is at the time. (And if we're leaving everything to them in the will, I'm assuming they will consider it a small price to pay in exchange, lol). There's not as much stuff as there once was, since we downsized to a condo -- and I expect I will get rid of more stuff -- and give away more keepsakes -- as I age. For example, I have things that belonged to both my grandmothers -- they're not especially valuable in a monetary sense, and they won't mean a thing to my nephews, but they might to my cousins' kids (the great-grandchildren). And I have a silver dish that my great-aunt gave me from her china cabinet the last time I saw her... I plan to send it to her granddaughter someday -- she doesn't seem like the type who'd be interested in heirloom silver, but she loved her Grandma & I feel like it belongs to her more than it does to me. :) I do intend to draw up a list & add it to my will as to what should go to who, should I not get around to it within my lifetime. I don't think there are any dildos to worry about (ROFL!!)... there will be some letters & diaries but I'm not going to worry about those.

    You did make think, though, about how my uncle & aunt were tasked with cleaning out my great-uncle (my grandfather's youngest brother)'s apartment after he died. He was a recluse and an alcoholic and apparently it was quite a mess. Tons of empty bottles everywhere. I remember my aunt making faces when she told me about it, years later.

    But yes -- baby clothes, hint hint, and poof!! Grandchildren! Some people don't realize how lucky they are, do they? :p

    I read a review of this book which contrasted her approach with Plum Johnston, who wrote "They Left Us Everything," about cleaning out her parents' house. (I read it -- and loved it -- and reviewed it on my blog.) They had tons of clutter and it took her months & months to go through it all. She says she wouldn't have it any other way, because she learned so much about her parents, & herself, in the process. Different strokes...!