By now most people know of Marie Kondo, whose influence has swept through the planet and through our home. The 34 year old tidying expert, best-selling author, star of Netflix's hit show, "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo," and founder of KonMari Media, Inc. has planted her ideas into countless conversations as well as social media posts. Notwithstanding cynics (like me), her gentle contemplative “thank-your -possession”, “does-it-spark-joy” approach actually resonates deeply with many who genuinely desire a better way of living but don't know how. Her method comprising 6 rules have transformed homes and lives of the occupants.
I have mulled over her 6 rules and realized with delight that when applied to the end-of-life actually simplify our life's clutter and help us finish well.
Rule 1: Commit yourself to tidying up
To finish well in life's journey, we have to make a conscious decision and commit to doing a number of things to prepare. Precisely because we are clueless as to when and how we will die, it is imperative that we plan for the sudden and unexpected.
Rule 2: Imagine the lifestyle you want
Who wants to think about death and dying when we are well? Until and unless you find out how poorly some people die, there is little motivation to imagine how you would prefer to die. But we must imagine; we need to have a clear and precise mental portrait of our preferred end.
Rule 3: Finish discarding first
The moment we are given a terminal illness diagnosis, our life clock turns into a timer counting down. This realization that our days are numbered clarifies priority and we instinctively know what are the things we ought to stop doing. The degree we are able to discard the frivolous and unimportant things of our lives is the degree of the quality of our remaining time.
Rule 4: Tidy by category, not by location
There are time-tested categories we need to sort out:
- Estate planning
- Writing a will
- Doing our nominations for our CPF accounts and insurance policies
- Registering our Advance Medical Directive (AMD)
- Registering our Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
- Working out our Advance Care Plan (ACP)
Rule 5: Follow the right order
Marie Kondo observes astutely that when people do not follow her prescribed sequence, they end up not achieving their goals. This is the same for the final chapter of life. Being clear about order looks something like this: to finish well within limited time requires us to only engage in activities that a) enhance legacy b) improves quality of life c) prolong the expected life span, in that order.
Rule 6: Ask yourself if it sparks joy
I have observed that when we are living in a crisis mode, there are too many well-meaning folks giving too many unsolicited (often misguided and unhelpful) advice. There is not enough energy and time to follow every piece of advice offered. I saw with my own eyes how my late brother-in-law struggled with the deluge of suggestions on what to eat and drink, where to seek alternative treatment, which miracle healing rally to attend, what to avoid et cetera ad nauseum. KonMari's million dollar question is an effective filter: ask yourself if it sparks joy and, only if it does, would you invest your little time and strength doing it.
Marie Kondo has successfully guided many families to take loads of unimportant things out of their homes, keep only items that spark joy as well as arrange the selected precious possessions in neat order. And the result? Not only have homes transformed into lovable living spaces, marriages have changed into revitalized romances once more. I am learning that her simple approach can bless us in our final mile of life's journey. We can declutter and take pleasure in only those items that spark joy.