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Outdoor Hospice

Imagine being under the trees, sky, sun, clouds, rain, and all that is, instead of four white walls, when one's last breath is taken.

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

For those who have made peace with death long before it was at their doorstep, so that they could imagine their spirit's transition taking place in a natural setting. It is for those who want to be closer to God, Spirit, All That Is, through nature. It is for those who are in tune with ashes to ashes, dust to dust and believe in letting go of the physical self, as it is letting go, rather than when a Time of Death is stamped inside a hospital.

We know what the process of dying is like inside of four walls. It is a sentence we continue to carry out because it is familiar (and covered by insurance, perhaps). Imagine stripping away the white walls, the plugs, the outlets, the beeping, the chatter, the fluorescent lights. Imagine opening your eyes and seeing green leaves, brown bark, blue skies, white clouds, yellow sunlight, or dark rain clouds. Imagine smelling the fresh air breezing through, or the smell of pine or oncoming rain. Imagine feeling the warmth of the sun or sometimes raindrops. Perhaps, imagine being surrounded by a gauze-type canopy through which the mountains can be seen. Imagine hearing a running brook or stream and the call of birds. Imagine that pain is alleviated through various medicinal paths. Imagine being with others and not alone. Imagine being called home and taking one's last breath, of fresh air, in a natural setting.

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

I've talked to a clinician who loves the idea. I'll talk to my family and friends.

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

My idea feels huge, as if I'm bit out of my league, and perhaps far-fetched even. What might be 1-2 next steps for me?

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm trained in Gestalt practices centered on the Here/Now and the I/Thou relationship. The concepts enrich the Empathize phase of design, where the paradox of relationship and boundaries are paramount. My degree is in Organizational Development.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Stephanie

I love this. It's very much what I had in mind when reading through the Challenge. (When we have the ability to create our end-of-life surroundings and sensory experiences) I believe the re-connection, the reminder of being a part of the natural world and moving through a natural cycle would be grounding and peaceful. For both the dying and the survivors.   

Photo of Aaron Wong

Stephanie, Amy,

These ideas are wonderful, and I fully encourage you to team up and expand on the idea - the more input the better! In terms of next steps, can either of you think of spaces that closely resemble the "outdoor hospice". It would be an excellent exercise to visit a space like this, interview the people who maintain it, reside in it, or interact with it. Take pictures. Get first-hand feedback from people who use this space to gather insight into what makes this space amazing!