OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Reimagining (all) the end of life experience(s)

There clearly isn't one end of life experience. How do we design for the full variety of needs and desires?

Photo of Jim Rosenberg
3 8

Written by

One of the things that has struck me as I've been reading the posts here is how many different types of end of life experiences we need to consider.  There are so many different experiences that need to be supported in the most appropriate ways.

  • The end stage of life for the elderly that might be 10 or 20 years long
  • The end stage of life with dementia 
  • The end stage of life with a degenerative physical illness
  • The last weeks or days of a peaceful dying in old age
  • The last weeks or days of life with a painful, debilitating illness
  • The death of someone "out of order" (a child, a young wife or husband)
  • A sudden death (where the end of life is about the surviving community)
  • The end of life for many people in a community at once in a disaster
  • Death from violence or an accident (where there is someone to blame)
  • The end of life in economically disadvantaged countries or communities
  • Death in different spiritual communities

This certainly isn't a comprehensive list. This article on the causes of death in the US for men and women at different ages might suggest additional experiences we need to consider.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How can we understand or map the diverse range of needs and experiences of the dying? How can we create solutions (or a set of solutions) that embrace this diversity and deliver the individualized support people want?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Chandra Shekhar

Photo of Shane Zhao

Very interesting Jim. It raises the question of what the overlap between these different types of end of life experiences might be — I think you were already pointing to this in your provocation. Something that was a bit difficult to answer during the kick-off workshop for this challenge was the question of who are we designing for? This topic is universal to us all, yet the experience is so unique from person to person. Perhaps another question to ask is, what's something (if any) do many end-of-life experiences have in common? Perhaps that overlap may be an opportunity area for ideas to build off of in the next phase:)

Photo of Marea Saldarriaga

The end of life as one knows it might provoke an ilness for example an employee who suddenly looses his job can be so stressed out that can turn ill or a married person who is asked for a divorce can loose his/her appetite and become anorexic or more simply a sweet fan diagnosed with diabetes or a sculptor diagnosed with arthritis.