Getting your house in order

Decluttering is something that many people continuously put on the long finger; they might feel overwhelmed and frustrated as to where to begin, something that is particularly difficult if the clutter belongs to a loved one who has passed away. For a better sense of ease now and in the future, decluttering, or letting go, needs to become a daily habit, says Anne Marie Kingston of White Sage Decluttering.

AnneMarie Kingston of White Sage Decluttering. Pic by Lynda Kenny

“Did you ever ask yourself the question, ‘if I died in the morning who will have to sort out my house, my affairs and especially my personal clutter?’” asks Annemarie, an award-winning Professional Declutter in Clonakilty.

You might have your will and other important paperwork well organised when you depart from this world, but have you thought about your house contents? What mess might you be leaving behind for your family to sort out?

Ireland of old possessed very little and minded everything; ‘That will be useful or valuable in the future’; ‘You can’t throw that out, it belonged to Auntie Joan’. Many homes contain mountains of clutter: unimportant paperwork, old clothing and furniture – decades of small personal possessions and memories.

“Growing up in Newcestown I didn’t think about the implications of a death in the family,” says Anne Marie. “Thankfully both my parents are still living but many families have faced the emotional rollercoaster of decluttering the family home for sale or rental, a process can go on for months, even years.”

This subject first came up for Anne Marie when studying to become a professional declutterer. “I don’t want my kids and husband to have to sieve through my personal belongings after I pass, so today two black bags would hold the full contents of my wardrobe, and all my paperwork is up to date, with retention periods on each folder.”

‘Swedish death cleaning’ is something we should all think about, as Anne Marie explains: “It’s a concept that has come from a book by  Swedish writer Margareta Magnusson, in which she relates how going through all of her parents possessions after their deaths was incredibly emotionally taxing. This method is about decluttering and organising before you die so it isn’t a burden on your loved ones, who are already suffering.”

Anne Marie has witnessed this hardship so often in her work, “So many women have reached out to me, ready to let go of their husband’s clothing and paperwork but just unable to do it by themselves, the amount is so large.”

Some family members are more sentimental than others; some are too quick to put everything in a skip, others want to take too much to their own homes to avoid feeling guilty or disrespectful. This is a common flashpoint that can cause siblings to fall out. Perhaps this is something you can avoid for your family by decluttering your home now?

“What we class as clutter is personal to us all but unfortunately we can’t take it with us to the next world,” says Anne Marie. “Why not give precise items to family, friends and neighbours now? I think people would appreciate it more as you have allocated these keepsakes personally.”

Anne Marie offers 1-2-1 hands on decluttering service which is non- judgemental and fully confidential. She covers all of Cork County, and is also available for consultations online via zoom.

Call Anne Marie on 087 6529901. See her Facebook page: whitesagedecluttinering, or her website at for more details.

WCP Staff

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