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My Last Soundtrack

Through music, let's create a gateway to spark difficult end-of-life conversations while beginning to claim ownership of our own legacy.

Photo of Sue Kemple
7 11

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

Few things in life evoke memories more poignantly than music. This project is designed for people - more often than not baby boomers and older, those in touch with their impending mortality - who understand that the music they love tells a story about them, one that can also be part of the celebration of their lives once they've died and nurture fond memories for years to come.

We believe that our death-denying culture impoverishes our society, and we see the possibility of helping to remedy that through music.

Our website, My Last Soundtrack, is less about death and more about affirming life in the face of it - choosing the songs you'd want played at your funeral or end-of-life celebration, the songs that tell the story of your life. We encourage users to curate this playlist for free and share it on social media in the hopes of getting people to open the door to the tougher end-of-life conversations with family and loved ones, conversations about things such as advanced care directives, funeral and burial planning, and estate planning. Our ethos is slightly edgy and creates a space where people - both those facing imminent mortality and those who are in tune with the fact that phase of life will eventually come - can approach death with less anxiety, more courage, and a healthy sense of humor.

Our blog already links to relevant content on the web related to dying, death, and grief. We have plans to expand the site to include more advanced services for creating digital legacies and planning for end of life.

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

We've already begun testing among family and friends, and have received a good deal of practical feedback about how to improve the site. Since we are an online service, our community is the world - so having people share their playlists on social media will continue to provide us with a good sense of how much traction the idea might have. We are also very much interested in getting feedback about how to build out the site - what other services and features would offer the greatest value?

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

We'd like to see our site grow into a more comprehensive resource for end-of-life issues, so we are especially keen to connect with more people who work with the dying and those who are in the funeral industry, to gain feedback about how music plays a role among the populations with which you work, and how we might continue to develop a site that is useful and brings comfort. Also - people who have online platforms or services (or have ideas to create them) that might make for good partnerships.

Tell us about your work experience:

Entrepreneur, writer, educator

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

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Spam
Photo of Morgan Meinel
Team

Sue, thanks for sharing your amazing work with us! In my experience as a Palliative Care nurse, I have witnessed the tremendous and powerful healing effect of music  - for the patient, their loved ones, and even including the staff caring for these individuals! I love the idea of creating a soundtrack for someone's life. We create soundtracks and song lists for many events in our lifetime - weddings, sweet sixteens, Bar/Bat-Mitzvahs, etc. - it seems to make perfect sense that we would also create a soundtrack to reflect the entirety of our life - in all of it's wholeness. 

I would love to see your idea and project manifest also in a hospital setting - I believe many of our patients and their loved ones could benefit from this - and for those who live on, how lovely for them to have available to them an album of songs to listen to and remember their loved ones by. 

Thanks for sharing! :) 

Spam
Photo of Sue Kemple
Team

Hi Morgan, thanks for your kind words, and for the profound work you do in your nursing career. We'd love to bring this into hospital settings, too. Shane linked me to Yoko's tremendous work, and perhaps we can find some synergy there. :)

Spam
Photo of Morgan Meinel
Team

Thank you, Sue! I had a great conversation with my dad yesterday about what songs he would like played during his end of life experience and thought of you immediately - he said The Beatles were #1! :) Thank you for the work that you do, and for your creative ideas!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

I think your idea is interesting. I can see tie-ins with flower companies and see the use of photos and videos to create memorials. One thing I am not clear on is how the user experience on your website differs from Spotify in terms of selecting the songs and sharing the wishlist. What additional value do you provide?

Spam
Photo of Sue Kemple
Team

Hi Kate - good question. While integrated with Spotify, you would select the songs through our platform and have the opportunity to explain why you made the song choices you did, designate "music trustees" to carry out your wishes after you've gone, and also share through email or as a PDF. We have definitely heard the feedback that being able to add photos and videos would greatly enhance this service, as well as the ability to add songs not on Spotify to the playlist - such as songs composed and performed by the user or loved ones. It remains a work in progress, and hoping to get more feedback from here as to how we can continue to enhance it. Thanks for your comments!

Spam
Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Thanks for sharing the amazing work that you're doing Sue! On your site, I noticed that you can see the top Last Soundtrack Songs. I'm curious if the songs are ranked based on what your audience has chosen each week or is the list a curated collection? 

You might also be curious to check out this likeminded idea from Yoko K. : Sound Will: Some people say hearing is the last sense to go. What's the last sound you wish to hear at the end of your life? 

Spam
Photo of Sue Kemple
Team

Thank you Shane! The top songs list is based on what the users have chosen. We hope it helps give people a starting point when they start to consider what music they want to add. Thanks also for suggesting I check out Yoko's work - THAT is amazing!