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Understanding the End-of-Life Through Nature and Self-Connection

Understanding nature and promoting self-discovery & self-awareness as an avenue to a fulfilling life until our final moments.

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

Being in & understanding nature inspires us to connect with ourselves. In turn, creating a deep & true inner connection by means of self-awareness surmounts all other connections. It helps us connect with others & the world around us more authentically & to grow and thrive in life until our final moments. By promoting connections with nature & ourselves, we encourage people to take on these tasks and become aware & comfortable with the notion of change in & around us & the fact of passing away.

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

A pilot experiment can be conducted with friends & family members of varying ages (kids, adolescents, adults, elderly) to evaluate the level of impact. The experiment will be two-pronged: 1) promoting connection with the natural world, including plant/animal life cycles 2) enabling self-discovery/self awareness by means of mind-body connection techniques, self-reflection & expanding consciousness. A simple visual, interactive tool can be used to bring to light the underlying principle of change.

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

I have some ideas for the framework of, and content for, the interactive tool, but these could be further developed in collaboration. For the pilot experiment, I intend to use e-tools and to conduct all communications online, so there are only internet costs involved. However, if/when this is scaled up to be applied in other settings such as schools and various public and private institutions, other requirements such as organizational and monetary input may come up.

Tell us about your work experience:

I have extensive work experience in the humanitarian/development sector across an international non-profit organization & the United Nations, covering multiple sectors, including Health. Skills/experience include project design, management& coordination; communication; fundraising & donor relations.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Burcu Turkay

Dear Mismak,
I really like your idea! I deeply believe if we could rebuild the connection with nature, most of our problems would be solved as humanity. I have uploaded 3 ideas and each of them searching for this connection - I would love to hear your thoughts.

Photo of Mismak Zena Gessesse

Thanks for the feedback, Burcu! I agree re: solving most of the ills of humanity through connection to nature. 

Photo of Julia Mauser

Dear Mismak,
i really like your idea of "bringing light the underlying principle of change. " I can visualise it through many means; in combination with your image of the forest I wish you would be more specific in your intentions.
There are these beautiful burials in a forest these days, (in German they are called Friedwald which means peaceful forest, specifically designated forests, in which you can choose a tree under which one can be buried) This is only the last stage, but I think it could be much more enganged as a space for reflection and connection to nature during life times. Also I have observed how many elderly automatically reingage with nature as they grow older, as the joy of butterflies , and the speed of nature seems to be more natural than the urban speed.
There are particular plants that attract some fantastic elements like the butterfly tree which could support some more specific contributions that you can think of as design tools to make your idea more accessible to this project. Good luck and lots of energy for the next phase! Julia

Photo of Mismak Zena Gessesse

Dear Julia,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback and interesting ideas!

The purpose of the image is for it to be a source of thought-provocation and reflection. I have revised the caption of the image accordingly in support of that purpose- thanks for that feedback!
The overall idea is for people to observe the workings of nature and then reflect on their observations to find ways to bring more understanding and meaning to their own lives. The interactive tool is intended to be a guide, allowing the user to be an active learner by means of observation and reflection to eventually come to the understanding that change is a natural process and that it is all around us, including our own passing away.

Thanks for sharing your experience with elderly people. I love the “joy of butterflies”! This is exactly the kind of thing this idea is trying to build on, and not just focusing on the elderly, who, as you say, are more inclined to creating a connection with nature spontaneously, but with every age group including children, youth and adults, so that they can create that connection early in life. The idea of planting butterfly trees is a great one (and interestingly, I am keeping an eye out to attend a session on how to grow monarch butterflies!) and is definitely something that can be part of the interactive tool. For example, a user can make a project out of growing a garden and becoming a first-hand witness of the growth and change that occurs around plants (and animals) that they are personally attending to and then use that as an inspiration to connect with themselves and their own nature. This goes beyond just observation and reflection as it also encompasses "doing". Great. Thank you once again!