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Thoughts in Passing

What the dying can teach us: an audio-visual portrait project of nine Bay Area hospice patients.

Photo of Claudia Biçen
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Since I was a young child, I have been transfixed by the question of how we should live. Convinced that the dying would have the answer, I contacted hospices across the Bay Area in California and asked to be put in touch with their patients. I spent the next two years going to meet these people and interview them about their reflections on life and confrontations with mortality.  

The culmination of my meetings is a series of nine life-size graphite pencil portraits. Using the text from more than fifty hours of interviews, I transcribed my subjects' words onto their clothing in the drawings and created a three-minute audio edit of each person’s interview to accompany their portrait.

Full project:  

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

There is no way around it - death is a sad and existentially painful topic. Our aim with this challenge is not to make it something it is not. Rather, our mission is to create a safe and accepting cultural space to allow it to be more deeply what it is.


Claudia Biçen


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Photo of Ken Rosenfeld

Hi Claudia,  your work is breathtaking (literally, it actually happened).  I'll bet you're already plugged into the Bay Area end of life innovation community, but I'd hope we could connect around some upcoming plans (IDEO- and non-IDEO-related) that might feature your ideas.  If you're interested,  free to email me at

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