List of Death and End-Of-Life Insights & Problems
I recently worked a project called VESSEL with Mariana Martinez and Zoe Rogers. It was part of a larger project we started about Designing for Death. I plan on uploading more and more about this project but this part of our research is interesting enough to share now.
Below is the list of problem and insights we collected while talking to 8 so-called “death experts” and over 20 people of different ages, cultures, religious affiliations and backgrounds.
People don’t have conversations about death when they’re young and healthy. Many people die without stating their wishes.
People don’t know what options they have available to them in regards to body disposition, end of life care, healthcare, laws about death, etc.
Family and loved ones often have a hard time letting go — letting a loved one pass according to his/hers wishes.
People don’t know how death looks like anymore — it has been removed from every day life. Family members of people in hospice are confused and worried at the sight of what’s considered “normal” death.
In modern western society — People avoid talking and thinking about death. Death is a taboo subject.
Even those who DO know their wishes regarding end of life and death, often don’t communicate that to their loved ones.
The death care industry is opaque — There are huge (& unclear) differences in cost, local laws about death change between states, more body disposition option than just cremation & burial, etc. There is no visibility to any of that.
There is often a lack of support to those who lost a loved one.
People without support networks often die alone.
There is no death service financial regulation. Some services monetize and capitalize on pain and emotional distress.
People equate spending money (on funerals and post-death services) to love.
People equate trying to cure someone (save their lives) as love.
Advanced directives are often lost or can’t be found when needed.
The medical system is built to fix things (to a fault), and is really bad at letting go and letting someone die.
The costs for a modern funeral are extremely high.
End of life care or post-death decisions are often made while being emotionally vulnerable — especially when there’s no advanced directive in place.