As you age, when should you start getting rid of stuff? ‘Swedish death cleaning’ offers some tips

Oct 1, 2023 | 0 comments

By Adrian Chiles

Ronnie O’Sullivan has won an awful lot of snooker championships. This month he has added the 2023 Shanghai Masters to his collection. But he won’t be keeping the trophy. He doesn’t want his trophies. “I don’t want any memorabilia left by the time I’m 70 or 80,” he said. “I’m preparing for death – part of that is I don’t want no snooker stuff – waistcoats, cues, it’s all going to go.”

Preparing for death? Ronnie is in his 40s and, as far as anyone knows, in good health. But I know what he is getting at. You can’t take any of it with you. You can’t take your money or any of your stuff. For the former you will find any number of willing takers, for the latter not so much.

Snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t plan to keep his most recent trophy and, even though is only in his late 40s, he’s actively working to give away his belongings before he dies.

A nice woman I know asked me if I could find a home for her late husband’s extensive collection of old 78rpm classical records. She didn’t want money for them. “I just don’t want them to go to landfill,” she said sadly. I’ll find a good home for each and every one of them, somehow, but so much once-cherished stuff must end up in landfill. If we’re not careful, we burden our children and the planet with our things.

I came across something called Swedish death cleaning, defined as “a method of organising and decluttering your home before you die to lessen the burden on your loved ones after you’ve passed”. It is usually practised “by older people or those battling a terminal illness”.

This is on the right lines, but I’m with Ronnie – I think the process needs to start earlier in life. When my time draws near, I certainly won’t want to be stressing out driving around trying to find a home for my West Bromwich Albion memorabilia.

So when do you start? Ronnie’s 47 and that sounds about the right age to me; high time to stop accumulating stuff, and instead start shedding what you have.

Credit: The Guardian


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