Dostadning, by Margareta Magnusson

Published 2017 | Self help

Sharing the Swedish concept of ‘death cleaning’, Margareta Magnusson’s ‘Dostadning’ is a handy book to have, if for nothing but tips that can help the decluttering process too.

‘A fond and wise little book’ is what the New York Times called it and I would agree. I stumbled on this book at a time when I had – desperately – turned to the Internet for solutions on ways to convince my mother to declutter. She is a habitual hoarder who has preserved everything – from gift boxes that came our way over 15 years ago to frying pan sets and of course, the usual photographs, baby clothes etc. And considering the fact that I hoard books because “what if there’s an apocalypse and I have all the time in the world”, its best I put a pause on the commentary.

The Internet listed this book in its set of suggestions and I was caught by the musically assertive sounding word – “Dostadning”. As I read the blurb, I was intrigued.

The Crux

Margareta Magnussion’s book isn’t a preachy, morbid book that laments death. Instead, it treats death as a fact of life, which, despite its heartbreaking nature, it is. The author – who is a professional ‘death cleaner’ advocates the idea of taking care of your possessions, to, among others things, ensure what you value goes to an individual or place that appreciates it and your immediate family or loved ones do not have to bear the burden of sorting through your things after you’ve moved on.

Following the initial introductory chapters, the author has divided the chapters on the basis of the things that form a part of life and have to be dealt with later – artefacts and articles, knickknacks and photographs, pets, clothing and more. The author downplays the gravity by interspersing her suggestions with instances from her life, with memories attached to her own death cleaning, personal and professional.

To Read or Not to Read

What stands out for me in this particular read is that the tips that she has given are practical enough such that they need not be relegated to the concept of death cleaning alone. These tips are helpful when you are changing homes, moving to another city/country or downsizing/decluttering as is evident in the photograph above – note the number of stickers peeping out of the book! I recommend this book for those looking for such practical tips and have added it to my mother’s bedside pile of books she should read.

I would, however, also add a ‘trigger’ label to this particular book for those who’ve seen death at close quarters – it may bring back memories that aren’t necessary good, it may remind you of moments of grief that may throw you into despair. That is not the intention of this book in any way but there is no discounting the unpredictability of the human mind and emotions so I’d recommend that for those for who continue to struggle with the concept of death, take your time with this book, if at all.

P.S Available to be borrowed by fellow bibliophiles in Ahmedabad.