Death Cleaning

A write up of Glasgow Death Cafe

By Bob Stoner

The Swedish term "döstädning" means 'death cleaning'. Before you prepare the swabs and disinfectant, it is more about the graceful art of decluttering the house...before someone else needs to do it. Death Cleaning is proposed for all those 65 years and above. but why not start earlier? This isn't a long weekend but a guided time of going through each room and discerning what should stay and what might need to go to be recycled, given away or even (sadly) discarded. But what criteria might we use to guide us?

How do you do this?We thought today, at Death Cafe, of whether "Will anyone be happier if I save this?" We might often save that glass vase, the one that is cracked but Granny gave it to us - but what sentimental value does it hold for the next generation? Might it be that the reasons for saving an object is what memories might it hold for our younger offspring or friends. We said that our old letters, speaking directly from the heart or describing the conditions we were in (so many decades ago) would literally speak volumes to those celebrating our life. It could highlight what made


Margareta Magnusson's book, 'The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter (The Swedish Art of Living & Dying)' offers that opportunity to slowly process your way through your wardrobe, checking your kitchen drawers and the garage/shed/loft/understairs cupboard, and declutter. 

It is very akin to the Danish hygge concept, possibly allow more space within our lives for them to flourish, not constrained by all the stuff from the past. Our memories will still remain, regardless whether we have that vase or not.


We also spoke about the gift of eulogies. Yes, they can come lovely and polished when given by celebrants and ministers, but often they are all glossy and possibly not reminiscent of the individual in reality. What a blessing it might be to the family if we could write our own eulogy. It could have the framework of the chronology of our life and say what we have done: job titles etc; but does that truly express who we are?

The Gift of Eulogy can help you experience that feeling of relief that comes from 
knowing you are telling their unique story in a memorable way.

Possibly the eulogy might include stories that share what life was like back then, when few around us actually could understand or recall. We could express what we felt of the family, especially around those special occasions, passing on our emotional stories rather than the factual moments we typically hear today. We might also wish to include those moments which made us sad, but surely these are moments which 'have made us who we are' - so doesn't that describe us?



This might be problematic as they may very well stir up some emotions within us. It would be perfectly natural for that to occur. So, it was suggested, that we might spend an hour or so with a celebrant, minister or friend, relating our life story, our 'being' more than our 'doing', to help us to express all that we might wish to say. 

What a powerful inspiring hour at Death Cafe.

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