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Creative Director, Brand Experience Design at Mayo Clinic. I speak and write about Design & Healthcare, most recently "Design and the Patient Experience" a NGPX '15. As a Canadian, I am interested in how we as individuals talk about and plan for end of life, and how we can design our healthcare experience to accommodate a variety of wishes. Graduate of Parsons The New School for Design MFA Design and Technology and McGill University BA Psychology.
Hi Kay - thanks for your post. I echo some of the other comments, and Morgan's thoughts about memorialization. Why not take advantage of all this accessible media technology and design? There is something about this nugget of an idea that could go in many directions which a great design firm like IDEO could help guide and shape. For example, a quick service for a "busy mom" could come out of a design phase looking like a "wishes" kiosk at a Walgreens or Boots Chemist. Would a solution like that solve the speed issue, but perhaps not the problem of privacy or intimacy that Morgan talks about. Making time to think about wills, end of life, memorialization, rites, lawyers and passwords seems like the task none of us want to get to on our todo list, and one of those ones that just keeps expanding :) However, I do like the idea of time-boxing this initiative - for example, could there be a series of three 1-hour appointments in a place of joy and calm (rather than a funeral home or a lawyers office) where we can deal with these todos - maybe it is retail main street, or has a real-world mortar component, so that it can be done on Saturday errands days? Keep going - great stuff :)
Hi Kate, thanks for your idea - this is really great. The words "ashes to ashes" jump to mind, and that our funeral rites (in the West at least) are in a way already rooted in a connection to the earth and a "return". Some Native American philosophies in the southwest posit that we come from earth, and science confirms that we are made of the same stuff as stardust :) The idea, not just the website, but the *concept* of paying greater attention to the environmental aspects of burial is rich with possibilities. I wonder what funeral homes, who must be having this conversation already, might have to say that would inform your idea with some user research? If you haven't already, speaking to a few about whether environmental concerns (carbon footprint etc.) are coming up in conversation about burials with families might be interesting.
The other aspect of your idea that I like is exploring the neat tie in between how we think about our individual "legacy" throughout our life, not just at the end, and how we are a global society thinking about our collective legacy - what state are we leaving the planet in? Sometimes when I am walking through a cemetery I notice that the size of one's legacy tends to be correlated to the size of one's mausoleum (see the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal for example) or how high up it is on a hill - both confirm the status and importance of the person. I wonder if you can you connect status and legacy together in a way that would further your concept and goals for end of life? You mention building a website as a good idea, but an educational site is only one aspect of this exploration I think - what else could there be? This is really great and contemporary - please keep going!
Hi Dina, thanks for your post. There are a couple of threads in here that I wanted to respond to.
The first is the idea that our understanding of dying is informed by mediated cultural products like movies, tv shows and online media. Definitely! Also our feelings and emotions around end-of-life are mediated as well. When an imaginary character in a popular show dies (say Hodor in "Game of Thrones"), do we feel real loss, or simulated loss? Is it any different online, than when we are in a theatre? Why is there a massive cultural outpouring? How do cultural products structure our public conversations about death?
This is an interesting tension online where the dialogue and exchange is happening. Can you tell us more about how you think media and death are related? Are there any writers who have explored this problem that we might be able to read together? Alain de Botton jumps to mind.
The second idea I liked was kind of hidden in your "lightweight experience" response - which is User Research. You have the seed of an idea to provide some sort of service around wish fulfillment at end-of-life, but you aren't sure yet how to frame it, and so you suggest that you gather information, and then "This information could be used to begin to build a service". Deepening understanding of the user groups, and going into that research with an open mind, rather than to justify a specific service you have already imagined, is a really great way to find out what people really need/want, rather than what we speculate as designers. However, in the format of this challenge, how could you structure this research? What are your research objectives beyond "find out more"?