WORD: DöstädningA Swedish solution to the mess of death.

WORD: DöstädningA Swedish solution to the mess of death.

Issue 47

, Starters

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  • Words Rosalind Jana
  • Photograph Julien Vallon

Etymology: In 2018, author and artist Margareta Magnusson hit The New York Times bestseller list with her book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. Although it might sound like a service performed at a Stockholm crime scene, death cleaning, or “döstädning” in Swedish, actually refers to the art of decluttering prior to one’s own demise. The word is a simple portmanteau, coined by Magnusson, of “dö” (death) and “städning” (cleaning). It takes its place alongside a myriad of other systems—the KonMari Method most famous among them—that promise to turn the arduous task of getting rid of stuff into a streamlined process.1

Meaning: Although the word may have been brought to the mainstream by Magnusson, it refers to a culturally established practice of sorting and ...

ISSUE 52

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