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


Recent comments

(1) View all

Leigh commented on Celebrate Life

Hi Roh,  Our culture is definitely one which tends to avoid conversations about death.  We are also terrible about telling people how we feel about them until it's too late, and not only telling them, but showing them.  I fear that there is often quite a degree of guilt and regret felt by people at funerals (and presumably beyond).  
In terms of the pre-death celebration I think that can work if someone has one of those diseases with a reasonably defined end-date and they want to have a drink/meal with friends and family, share stories and memories and affirm the blessings of those relationships.  Even if that occurs (and I'm aware of a couple of people who have but not been to one myself), that doesn't replace the funeral and wake which is important to allow some time and space for grief. 
In non definable cases I think it's impossible to have such an event but that it is important to utilise those other milestones that occur during life, and if people are not in the habit of making them meaninful (most of us I'd suggest) then perhaps we need to look at turning those around. Even better, Gen X and following have largely lost the capacity for letter/card writing.  I would think many of us would say (well I do for myself) that a thoughtful paragraph in a card perhaps mentioning how I might have been involved in someone's life or encouraged them etc, is more meaningful and heartwarming than any material gift. 

In any case, yes I agree individuals should of course be able to choose to have a celebration of life while they are still around to enjoy it.  But I don't think it replaces the post-death things.  Pre-death celebration probably more for the person.  Post-death activities (funeral and wake) for the bereaved, not the deceased.

As for dying at home etc.  Yes most people wish to but few get to do it.  It's really tough on the family if they have to become like nurses administering medication such as a friend of mine did for her mother.  While there might be daily visits from community nurses etc, it's not enough if there is a need to increase pain med etc.  We would need to vastly improve the whole support structure for more people to be able to stay at home.  There's also then the question as to whether it makes spouse or other family members uncomfortable if someone has died at home.  That's part of our difficulty with dealing with the reality of death I suspect.

Those are the conversations also needing to be had I reckon. And perhaps that already happens within the scope of palliative care teams and their support, but if not perhaps it could be  ie they have a counsellor who assists individuals with their own choices and also facilitates conversations with partners and families so that helps prepare them all.

All the best with your studies!