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Transforming the Fear of Death into an Inspiration for Living

Stimulating discussions in community about different worldviews on death in order to transform fear into inspiration for living well.

Photo of Marilyn Schlitz, PhD
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This program is for anyone who is going to die.

Making use of a feature length documentary film and book, this program seeks to inspire and promote deep and transformative conversations about different worldviews and beliefs about death and the afterlife. There is a 10-part educational program with a facilitator training so that the project can be taken to scale across the world.

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

I have begun to collect narratives from people before and after the training to look at shifts in their language about death. Making use of a computer based language analysis program, it is possible to identify different emotions, feelings, and concerns. This can be combined with psychological and biological outcomes to see if people have less anxiety and greater quality of life.

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

I would love help in doing the facilitator training on line. This means folks who have skills in running webinars and can help administer the training. It would also benefit from someone who can help with the evaluation pre and post the training and develop a way of easily evaluating the trainings that are run by the facilitators in their communities.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am an anthropologist with an interest in worldview, transformation and healing. I am an award winning writer, speaker, and film maker. My current work involves Grateful Aging and Death Makes Life Possible.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm
  • An Individual

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Photo of Chris Lee

Hi Marilyn,

I like the idea of using viewpoints from different cultures to help reset expectations and contextualize one's experience around dying.
You mention facilitator training and 10 part program. Can you explain more about how this works? How long is the learning experience? What is the follow-up in terms of support for the dying?
It sounds like a good tool in a larger toolkit.

Photo of Marilyn Schlitz, PhD

We have created a facilitator training and guidebook for facilitators. It goes along with the film, Death Makes Life Possible. Yes, I'd love to see it as part of a larger package of offerings. We piloted it in retirement communities.

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