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"I'm dying and..."

Dying is social — the hardest social event — and this idea enables the dying and those around them to confront death openly and publicly.

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

This idea is designed for anyone dying and anyone close to someone dying. It is for anyone of any background, education, race, sexuality, religion, age or gender. There is no one solution for dying, but there may be a simple solution to start us talking about dying.

Death is a hard problem to solve. But perhaps the hardest challenge is that we find it so difficult to talk openly and directly about what death and dying mean. If we could solve that problem, might death become easier?

Our social interactions provide us an opportunity to confront death and allow others to think, talk and ask about what it means to die.

Start a Conversation

This idea is low-budget: start a social campaign to encourage those dying and those around them to publicly display the death affecting them. 

In the past few years, social campaigns like Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights, women's rights and mental health awareness have provided organic, visible, inspiring and effective platforms for change and progress.

This idea imagines a social campaign that provides people with a recognisable way to display their relationship with death, to start a conversation that begins with "I'm dying and..."

The end will never be the same, but maybe a single idea could start an unending conversation. 

Visualize it

A visual identity - maybe an icon or image - could go hand-in-hand with the simple statement "I am dying and..."

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The icon could be augmentable - to add a religious element or some other important image for those using it. Or it could become a short hand for us to acknowledge, recognise and mourn.

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The icon could be re-used on the anniversary of a loved ones' death - to allow us to remember - and for those around us to engage thoughtfully. 

Someone who is dying could wear a simple badge, saying "I'm dying and..." to encourage those around them to question, console and connect.

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Someone who is close to a dying loved one could display a badge on their social media icon with the text "My mom is dying and..."

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Someone who has died could leave behind a letter to their loved ones that starts "I am dying and..."

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Social media and social campaigns have become such a powerful way to communicate and share important ideas - let's use them to tackle our relationship with death - one thing we all have in common.


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

There a lots of lightweight ways you could experiment with this idea: - Add a social media badge or bio on the anniversary of a loved ones death "My grandmother died one year ago and..." - and see what reactions and questions come through. - Encourage someone who is dying to host a Reddit Ask Me Anything: "I'm dying and... you can ask me anything".

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

People with social media and social campaign skills and experience. People who want to share their experiences with death and dying. People who are in palliative care. People who work in palliative care. People with visual design skills.

Tell us about your work experience:

I work for a large technology and design company.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Chandra Shekhar

Photo of Lee-Jung Kim

What an interesting idea! During our team ideation and prototyping, this idea of sharing came up a lot, too! Can it expands to perhaps not just people who are directly related to those who are dying but to the hospital staff who are taking care of dying patients? Maybe they don't have personal connection, but they still want to share the pain. One of the participants who is working at the hospital (as summer intern) faced death for the first time. He was distraught. He was sad, but when he wanted to talk about it with his co-workers after work, everyone stopped him and said "leave the work stuff at work."
 But the pain doesn't go away.
Sharing stories would be a wonderful way to foster the community building as well. If one wants to remain anonymous, can they create their own character?

Photo of Christopher

Thanks for the comments Lee-Jung!

Yes, I think anyone is open to using the campaign - the intent is for people to remix, reuse, and grow the campaign. It gets its power through the public using the 'brand' and participating in conversations about death. 

Anonymity is a great idea and I think an important part of any social movement, so people should absolutely feel comfortable to use this anonymously using whatever platform or media they choose, but I also think that campaigns like this draw power from seeing people we know and respect talking about how something - in this case death - affects them personally. 

Photo of Pearl Sequeira

Hi Lee-Jung and Christopher,

Have you heard about Code Lavender? It was developed by Cleveland Clinic to provide a calming influence to clinical providers, patients and their families, during an emotionally stressful time.  It would be interesting to see an intersection between a digital outreach and the philosophy of this program. 

Code Lavender - References: