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Mortality Coach

Use coaching that is anchored in awareness of our mortality to live each day well, so death can be okay for individuals and loved ones.

Photo of Jim Rosenberg
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This concept is for any individual. It brings death back into our everyday lives to breakdown the distancing and compartmentalization of death. It helps people make satisfying choices throughout life and in their relationships, so regrets aren't at the heart of an end of life experience.

A great end of life experience starts with a great day-to-day life experience. How can we make life choices that leave us at the end of life perhaps feeling sad that it's over, but without regrets? How can we live with our community in a way that ensures, even after a sudden death, that our loved ones don't feel regrets about how we used our time together? What would it take to be more aware everyday that we are mortal, that we are impermanent, and use that knowledge to make great choices? 

Mortality coaches would provide the voice and perspective that individuals need to create an emotionally satisfying life. Much like career coaches, the mortality coach would help the person voice his or her values, explore options, set goals, and reflect on choices. The mortality coach would provide guidance on how to live with others in a way that makes those relationships richer and more present as well. And the coach would help with the practical stuff too -- life insurance, advance directives, end of life plans, and the like. Mortality coaching would tuck discussion of this topic that seems far off and to be avoided -- death -- inside conversation of the things people care about most -- connection, love, relationships, contribution, joy.

Mortality coaching would fit into the current market for therapy, mutual support, self-help, and spiritual guidance services that exist today. The mortality coaching initiative would engage social workers, guidance counselors, and social service professionals as well to extend the reach of coaching across all segments of society. The concept wouldn't require creation of a new army of coaches. It would be about creating a methodology, training and perhaps certification for the professionals already working in these markets. Mortality coaching would use many of the same approaches but be anchored in the question, "How do I live life in a way that will make death a great experience for me and my loved ones?" Coaches could work with people in person or via online and tele-health techniques.  

We live in a world with countless and seemingly never ending demands from work, family, school, etc. We live in a world with constant messages promoting wealth and aspirations. The mortality coach would help people navigate all those demands and provide a different voice about what is valuable in life. 

Design Questions to Resolve

The following are open design questions to resolve. I'll keep a running list as they come up in conversation with the community.

  1. What is the most effective name for this stream of coaching? What name opens the door to the most people while authentically bringing the topic of death into the work of everyday life? 

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Create a 30 - 60 second description of the service. Ask 25 people for their reactions (appealing, off-putting, worth investment of their time and money...).

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

1) Reactions as potential consumers of mortality coaching 2) Reactions from (or connections to) people who work as life coaches today

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


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Photo of Manal

Great conversation around wording and significance! Question: how do we frame this coaching beyond just its title so that it is both appealing and imperative to people of all ages? How are we to convince young, healthy people that this coaching is necessary, and how do we communicate that? I agree that this is an entire culture change we're hoping to achieve, so how can we start? 

Look forward to updates before the Refinement phase comes to a close!

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