Reader Question: My parents seem to have no interest in downsizing. But I don’t want to be left clearing their home when the time comes. How do I bring up the topic of what to do with all their stuff without it turning into an argument?
My Answer: I get asked this question quite often. I always recommend a wonderful (and short) book by Margareta Magnusson titled, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter” to anyone and everyone.
One quote sums up the issue: “If you are too scared to be a little impolite with your parents and you do not dare to raise the topic or ask them questions to help them think about how they want to handle their things, don't be surprised if you get stuck with it all later on!”
Try these conversation-starting questions. They may help you and your parents decide which things can be passed on to new homes now rather than later.
“You have many nice things, have you thought about what you want to do with it all later on? Are there people, organizations or museums that would love to have some of these items?”
“Do you enjoy having all of this? Is the amount of stuff taking a toll on you physically and mentally?”
“Could life be easier, less tiring, and your home safer to live in if we passed along some items you've collected over the years but no longer need?”
“Is there anything we can do together slowly, on a regular basis, so that there won't be too many things to handle later?”