Australian-born Peter Walsh, who’s made it in LA with blessings from Oprah, has written the ideal gem for those at that difficult time of dismantling their parents’ home.
Even though Let It Go, like many of Walsh’s books, is about decluttering generally, it shows what a cleansing experience this can be – not just at the practical but also at the spiritual level. And seeing it that way is helpful in reframing the sad task of retrenching the family home without feeling possessive or anxious about the items you find.
In essence Peter says to ask: is the item malignant? You know what to do with that one. But is it a treasure? Or even just worthy? Items in both of those last two categories are all well and good – but not necessarily something you should take back to your place.
Peter explains the different types of clutter in this quick clip.
Marie Kondo’s intense little book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing brings extraordinary passion and a Japanese sensibility to the same subject.
Both books capture the same zeitgeist as Margareta Magnusson’s The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. The Swedish have the word dostadning, which combines ‘death’ and ‘cleaning’ to describe the art of paring down all your possessions before you die, rather than leaving this task for others to do afterwards. Like Peter and Marie, Margareta argues this is so profoundly rewarding that we should all do it while we’re still well and truly alive and see it as a continuous process.
Journalist Rachel Askinasi tried death cleaning herself and it made her consider her things in a new way. Read about her experience here.