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When Is It Time to Downsize?

When Is It Time to Downsize?

Recently, my wife and I had a yard sale. We’ve been talking for a while about how we want to downsize and get rid of clutter. We definitely got rid of a lot of stuff. For me, the yard sale had added importance.  It was a step towards getting rid of my stuff so others won’t have to when I am gone. Recently I learned about a concept called the “Swedish Art of Death Cleaning.”  It’s not a new or earth-shattering concept, but it gives a name to something I have thought about.  It’s simply getting rid of your collections and goods before you die so your loved ones aren’t burdened with the effort.

Reducing clutter while healthy

I mentioned this to a family member and it didn’t go over too well. I think hearing me say this made them think I wasn’t doing well.  On the contrary, I am 7 years into multiple myeloma and physically I am the healthiest I have been since being diagnosed, thanks to advances in immunotherapy. But the fact remains that myeloma is incurable. Treatable but incurable. A couple of months ago I was hit with the flu. I was pretty sick for a couple of weeks. With my weakened immune system, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit worried when I couldn’t shake the flu after a week or so. I’m all better now, but I decided then that I’d use the opportunity of being healthy to start shedding my stuff. I’ve also made a mental note to no longer share with folks, particularly family, that I’m “death cleaning”.  Instead, I’ll use downsize or reduce clutter to describe my purposeful efforts.

I think the real challenge in this effort will be what to do with specific memorabilia that means a lot to me, but perhaps not to other folks. We don’t have kids that I can hand stuff down to. I’ve lived in California my whole life, but I am huge Minnesota Vikings fan. So what do I do with all my Vikings memorabilia?  I can’t just toss things like a Sports Illustrated from 1989 with Herschel Walker on the cover after being traded to the Vikings. This has a lot of sentimental value to me, so I want it to go to someone who can truly appreciate the specialness.

A question of timing

And then there is the question of timing. With advances in myeloma treatment and the real progress being made in immunotherapy and now CAR T-cell therapy, people are living a long time with myeloma. I am hearing more often about people who are living 20 years or more with the disease. So, I don’t want to get rid of my possessions too soon, but I also don’t want to wait too long.

I recognize that this might be a topic that isn’t the most upbeat to some people.  For me though, I see this simply as something that is necessary. It’s not good and it’s not bad, it’s just how it is. It doesn’t mean I’m not planning to be around for a long time. It’s just part of the process.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.