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.

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