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A Timeline of My Death Cleaning

June 5, 2019

This blog post is inspired by the book "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter" by Margareta Magnusson.

Its 1998. I'm 8 years old in Attica, New York, with my mom. My great-grandpa has recently passed away and great-grandma has moved in with us. We are at their home - the childhood home of my grandfather. We are death cleaning. 

 

My only memory from this trip is of a cardboard box I found in the attic. Inside, the box was neatly packed full of every greeting card they had ever received. The cards were packed like records, their spines facing upwards. I dragged my fingertips along the spines of the cards. They didn't budge - they were packed too tightly. 

 

Its 2010, I'm 20 years old somewhere in Florida working for my uncle at one of his estate sales. The owners of the home had passed away and their adult children didn't have time to clear the house out themselves. The house was filled with beautiful things that were clearly special - a sword earned in the military, china from all over the world. Everything is being sold for a few bucks.

 

Its 2017 and I'm a new organizer in Portland, Oregon. I'm working for another Organizer who sometimes contracts me to help with large projects. One week I help an elderly couple who has trouble walking sort through a lifetime of things so they can move to an assisted living facility. The next week I comfort a grieving son as we sort through his entire childhood home after his parents pass away. 

 

Its 2018 and I'm at a consultation. I am talking to a couple with young children. They mention how they want to keep certain things, not for them, but to pass onto their children. I can't help myself - I gently stop them and tell them "Your children will not want many of your things when they are older. They will have their own things and their own life."

 

These experiences throughout my life are the fuel that inspires me to declutter constantly and buy less frequently. Every single item we own will need to be dealt with at some point by someone. Who will that person be? How much time will they have? What resources will they have available? Take some time to decide - today. 

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