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.
- 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?