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Decluttering and Organizing on the Day of the Dead using Swedish Death Cleaning and Hygge Principles

What do "Dia de los Muertos", "Döstädning", and "Hygge" all have in common?

Have you ever wondered how people in different cultures approach the topics of life and death? You might not have, but in my profession, this question arises frequently during conversations with clients who are decluttering and organizing their homes, especially after the passing of a parent."As we near 'Dia de los Muertos,' also known as 'Day of the Dead' and 'All Souls Day,' I couldn't help but see a connection with how we approach organizing our homes. In this article, I'll explore the intriguing customs of 'Dia de los Muertos,' 'Döstädning,' and 'Hygge' to find out what links them. 'Dia de los Muertos' translates to 'Day of the Dead' in Spanish; 'Döstädning' is the Swedish method of decluttering; and 'Hygge' embodies the Danish quest for a cozy and stress-free lifestyle.

In this article, I help you discover the path to organization and serenity on "Dia de los Muertos". Explore my ultimate guide, where I detail the steps for decluttering and arranging your living space using the Swedish Death Cleaning, or 'Döstädning,' approach. Uncover the secrets to designing a harmonious environment while adopting the comforting Hygge lifestyle. Stick around with me while we discover peace, tidiness, and a special way to honor your treasured memories.

During "Dia de los Muertos," Mexican families pay tribute to their departed loved ones by cherishing their memories. This is done through the creation of altars or visiting graves. Marigolds and offerings of food are carefully arranged alongside photographs and personal items that evoke memories of the deceased.

Döstädning is a Swedish cleaning process that prioritizes clearing one’s home by decluttering it in a way that lessens the burden on their loved ones who are still living and would need to deal with their belongings after they have passed. Hygge is a Danish word describing an environment that embodies the feelings of warmth, coziness, and relaxation with less stress.

While these traditions may seem quite different, they all share a common thread: celebrating life, honoring memories, and creating spaces that bring comfort and joy. "Döstädning" a Swedish term that translates to "death cleaning," represents more than just a cleaning process; it brings together a thoughtful and practical philosophy. At its core, it emphasizes the act of decluttering one's living space with the well-being of surviving loved ones in mind.

The concept is to reduce the emotional and logistical burden that inevitably falls on family members when they are forced to sort through a lifetime's worth of possessions after their loved one's passing. This tradition encourages people to carefully choose and save their most important things while letting go of less important ones. Doing this Swedish death cleaning, "döstädning, not only helps keep your living space clean and organized but also makes it easier to go through changes and hold onto special memories instead of being overwhelmed by stuff.

Embracing the Hygge Lifestyle:

Both "Día de los Muertos" and "Döstädning" align with the principles of hygge, a Danish concept that emphasizes comfort, coziness, and well-being. In the case of "Día de los Muertos," the atmosphere created during the celebration is warm and inviting, with loved ones coming together to share stories, enjoy traditional foods, and pay homage to those who have passed.

In "Döstädning," the minimalist and organized living space is the idea of keeping one’s living space simple and neat. It follows the process used in Hygge principles. A clutter-free environment is often perceived as cozier and more comfortable. It also eases the emotional burden on those left behind, allowing them to remember their departed loved ones without the overwhelming task of dealing with a lifetime's worth of possessions.

Preparation and Reflection:

These two traditions share a similar focus on preparation and reflection. In "Día de los Muertos," the living prepare for the return of the deceased by creating "ofrendas," or offerings, or altars, and by cleaning and decorating cemeteries. It's a time for contemplation and reflection on the cycle of life and death. On the other hand, "Döstädning" encourages individuals to prepare for the inevitable by decluttering and organizing their possessions.

This process not only simplifies one's life but also prompts reflection on what truly matters. It's a practical approach to making the transition smoother for those who remain. In the journey from "Día de los Muertos" to "Döstädning," one can find a fascinating connection rooted in a Hygge approach to life and death. Both traditions emphasize the celebration of life, the importance of memories, and the creation of cozy, meaningful spaces. They also share a practical aspect, promoting preparation for the inevitable.

In my role as an organizer, I've assisted numerous families to downsize once they decided to move. Whether they chose to move to a smaller, more suitable home for their current needs or when they needed to move into an assisted living situation, by going through the process of getting rid of extra stuff and arranging their things neatly, they ensure that they have a cozy and comfortable space to live in during the later part of their lives.

When someone in the family passes away, it can leave a big job for those who are left behind. They have to sort through all the things that person owned, and sometimes they inherit furniture and belongings that they don't know what to do with. This task can feel very overwhelming because it's not just about cleaning up but also about dealing with the memories that are attached to these items. It's like a puzzle of emotions and decisions, and that's where the idea of Swedish Death Cleaning, or 'Döstädning,' comes in. It's a method to help people make this process more manageable, allowing them to honor their loved one's memory while finding a way to move forward with their own lives.

Additionally, when you're engaged in the process of "Swedish Death Cleaning", you're taking responsibility for the items you no longer need or want. This means either giving them to others who can put them to good use or selling them. This way, you can feel assured that the things you once held dear will finally find a new home where they'll be appreciated and looked after, instead of leaving them to chance in the hands of someone who may not value them as much or take care of them as you did.

By exploring these cultural practices, we can gain valuable insights into how we can lead more meaningful, cozy lives while addressing the realities of our mortality. So, as you consider your own life and how you wish to be remembered, take inspiration from these diverse traditions and embark on a journey towards a Hygge approach to both life and death.

Embracing Döstädning and Hygge Principles: Declutter and Organize Your Home Step-by-Step

Now that you understand the value of these transformative principles, if you find yourself wanting to reduce the overwhelm in exchange for a more serene and clutter-free lifestyle, you're in the right place. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to declutter and organize your home using the Döstädning and Hygge principles. Follow these simple yet highly effective, numbered steps to achieve your goal, and you'll be well on your way to a harmonious and cozy living space

  1. Start with a vision: First, envision the clutter-free and cozy home you desire. Think about the peace and serenity you wish to cultivate within your living space. This vision will serve as your guiding light as you embark on your journey towards embracing Döstädning and Hygge principles.
  2. Sort your belongings: Begin by sorting what you own into three groups: items that hold deep sentimental value, things you use regularly, and those that no longer serve a purpose. This step will help you make informed decisions when it comes to what to keep, what to part with, and what to cherish.
  3. Learn the art of letting go. Döstädning emphasizes the significance of letting go of items that no longer contribute positively to your life. Consider donating or recycling these possessions, giving them a chance to bring joy to someone else or be repurposed in a meaningful way.
  4. Hygge-created home: Implement the Hygge principles by creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Add soft lighting, comfortable textiles, and elements that evoke feelings of coziness. Don't forget to embrace the power of candles, soothing scents, and cherished memories to enhance the ambiance.
  5. Daily essentials that bring you happiness: As you organize your belongings, prioritize the things that you find essential, both in practice and with what simply makes you feel comforted and joyful. This includes the must-have items that make life easy, like a coffeemaker, toaster, your favorite books, cozy blankets, or items that hold sentimental value, such as family photos or heirlooms. Keep these items within easy reach to remind yourself of the serenity and happiness that Döstädning and Hygge principles can bring.
  6. Keeping Your Space Cozy, Neat, and Tidy: Life can get busy, and if you don't make a plan to review and redo the decluttering and organizing steps, your space can become messy again. To make sure your home stays calm and comfy, you should set up a schedule for cleaning and decluttering regularly. This way, you can check your things and make sure they still match the peaceful and cozy vibe you want in your living space."

Get your Free Hygge and Swedish Death Clearing Planner

By following these steps, you can declutter and organize your home with the essence of Döstädning and Hygge at the forefront of your mind, fostering a living space that reflects a serene and harmonious lifestyle.

In the end, these cultural practices teach us to celebrate life, cherish memories, prepare for the inevitable, and reflect on what truly matters. By doing so, we can create a cozy and meaningful life while leaving a legacy that extends beyond material possessions.


Blog post by Elizabeth Lulu Miranda: Lulu has been working as a home and office organizer in Chicago for over 15 years. She brings new perspectives on how to have an organized life. Writing for the Mercury Organizing blog “Create the Flow" and her personal blog “What would Lulu Do?"

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