One of the services a death doula can offer is Death Cleaning.
What the heck is Death Cleaning?!
Well, death cleaning is the act of organizing, giving away, donating and trashing the mountains of things you’ve collected in your lifetime, before you die, with love and intention. It can be a big job, which is why some doulas offer it as a service. Aside from the practicalities of cleaning, a death doula can help you make the experience rich and meaningful.
( If you’re with me and you’re keen on the idea, it can also be silly and fun. Actually I pretty much guarantee it’ll be silly and fun if you’re with me. That’s kind of my jam.)
You may have seen this before marketed as Swedish Death Cleaning based on the book of a similar name. It is a lovely, lovely idea and I am fond of it madly.
I’ve since learned that this isn’t really a thing like the press would have you believe. It’s more like minimalism- live simply and practically- that the lifestyle types have repackaged and turned into a trend and brought to the masses. This lovely book has been turned into a movement of sorts which is very cool. And whether is a “thing” or not, I love that it gets people thinking, and talking and acting. It’s a thing now, ha ha.
( My need for authenticity is fighting with my love of talking about death)
Whatever you want to call it, at its core Death Cleaning is just the act of taking care of your shit so your loved ones don’t have to. It’s done in the later years as one thinks about such things.
This can all also be done before your later years because hey, let’s face it: You could be 21 years old and this very day is a day in your “later years” because you get killed by a crazy Edmonton driver! One never knows.
With that in mind, if you happen to still be ALIVE , a good Death Clean or even just thinking about good Death Clean might inspire you to live a more simplistic lifestyle and that my friends is called minimalism.
I suck at minimalism.
I suck at cleaning.
I love it. I appreciate it. I crave it.
It’s all very Zen.
But I suck at it.
I can’t suck at something if I’m going to offer it as a service! And the thought of leaving piles of junky stuff for my kids to clean makes me shudder so…
I’m going to death clean myself first!
And document it here of course 🙂
I have a feeling this is going to be a difficult task but I think that by doing this I’ll have a better understanding of what the process is like for my dear clients and that’s a win for everyone.
I feel great anxiety and trepidation in my chest just thinking about it. The task is very overwhelming.
I have so much stuff!
All over the place!
Which is why I’m going to start small with the easiest items:
Let’s tackle the dresser first.
The whole task took me about an hour from beginning to end. I approached it as if I were working with a client so I was a. nice to myself about the mess. b. detached emotionally from my belongings c. invested in being efficient.
Here is what I learned:
- Doing the task quickly and intentionally is crucial to not getting stuck in the emotions of it.
- Have a garbage bag and containers for each of the following right there before you begin. The containers, boxes, bags, whatever are for things you give to family and friends, things you are donating/selling, things you need to move to another area of your home, and trash.
- Do any task that will only take 5 mins, right away. For instance, I had a pile of sunglasses that needed to go somewhere. I found an old makeup bag, tossed them in it and then put them away. Completing these small tasks right away prevents you from moving one mess to another area and gives you a feeling of completion in the original one.
- If the task is something that requires more work and time, write it down and then do it. You’ll forget and it wont get done or you’ll remember and it’ll hang over you and make you anxious. I can’t put all my things away because I need a jewellery box, and I need one of those file folder thingies and I need a Rubbermaid. So I wrote myself a list and on payday I’ll get what I need to put it all away, in a proper place. Now I know those real minimalist types say things like “Oh, if you need to buy more things to put your stuff in, you need to get rid of more stuff!” Well, I’m sorry DIANE, I’m not tossing out my fucking jewellery just because I don’t have a jewellery box to put it in. Gee Willikers!
- Be kind to yourself. Take breaks if you need them. Ask for help. Work through your heart lens. It will all be OK in the end no matter what you do.
It was an interesting task to complete because I could really see the way my mind operates, laid out within my stuff. According to a bunch of studies that are easily Googleable, if one lives in a scattered, cluttered mess, one’s mind is an scattered, cluttered mess BUT the opposite of that is true too!
Cleaning it and organizing it and living simply has a calming effect on your entire life. I can benefit from that and if I die from a stroke today, my drawers are one less thing my family has to take care of. That brings me peace and comfort, however small.
Until next time, when I tackle the closet, love and squishy hugs!