What is ‘Swedish death cleaning’? Peacock show explores ‘gentle art’

Swedish death cleaning” may sound like a funeral ritual. But it’s actually all about living in the present.

The longstanding in Swedish practice – further popularized with the book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson – involves a person going through their things so they don’t burden their loved ones with too much junk when they die. But death cleaning isn’t just for those near death; anyone can do it at anytime: before or after a big life change, or if they’re simply sick of all the clutter around them.

“The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” is now a TV series streaming on Peacock. It follows three Swedish death cleaners – Ella Engström, an organizer; Johan Svenson, a designer; and Katarina Blöm, a psychologist – as they assist Americans in Kansas City trying to tidy up their lives, materially and emotionally. (The familiar voice Amy Poehler narrates, and she serves as executive producer.)

“It’s a very deeply rooted way of handling your life in Sweden to not burden other people and also not live excessively,” Svenson says.

Death cleaning is ‘life-affirming’

Don’t think of death cleaning as the same as minimalism. You aren’t getting rid of everything

“You really want your home as well as your bigger life to be a reflection of your purpose, of what you value or how you want to treasure life,” Blöm says. “And that’s why this is such a life-affirming show, even though it carries the word death in the title.”

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