psychological, emotional, religious and spiritual.
People who die a good death often do so because they are
ready to die: if still mentally alert and lucid, they can prepare by
resolving lingering conflicts, seeking counsel and eventually coming
to terms with fate. Importantly, those who are prepared to die are
often surrounded by loved ones, and arrange to receive care that
maintains their self-respect.
BEING & DYING
of their bodies or minds. Right-to-die supporters have already
experiences that re-integrate death into
in the United States, the Netherlands and Belgium. And popular
was designed to help adolescents grieve
surveyed in a June 2014 Gallup poll think that physician-assisted
themselves with sound, instead of
assisted dying is expected to be legal within two years.
adolescents— though highly connected
grassroots movement to fill in the gap between traditional,
during di fficult periods of loss. We
ways to die well.
into a social tech start-up called Humane
the United States and Europe, have started offering practical and
developed into an IOS app called Cove.
around dying, often to perfectly healthy people. Alongside them
owners of the simple fact of being alive,
people who meet online and then gather in person to discuss dying
move with your heartbeat, using heart
To die with dignity, some choose to go before they lose control
Being and Dying builds products and
succeeded in legalizing voluntary euthanasia in places like Oregon
life. Flutter, an interactive music program,
support for death by choice is spreading; seven out of 10 Americans
the loss of a loved one by expressing
euthanasia should be available for terminally ill people. In the UK,
words, after our research showed that
This is the beginning of a cultural shift toward death, a
spiritual care and institutional, medical treatment, by creating new
Death doulas or death midwives, scattered through cities across
emotional support services around dying emotional support services
through their devices—tend to self-isolate
successfully spooled this research project
Engineering, and the project has now been
We’ve also built a wall clock to remind
is a growing network of Death Cafés around the world: groups of
right now. The arms of the clock gently
over chocolate cake and cappuccino.
rate sensors similar to those found in the
loss, in July 2013, National Public Radio journalist Scott Simon live-
does. The clock, called Uji, embodies a
many people are talking, connecting and passing on wisdom about
understand that we are always in time, not
Breaking the stigma on public expressions of mourning and
Apple Watch. It only stops when your heart
tweeted his own mother’s death. Outside of traditional institutions,
Zen philosophy of time: that we should
how to approach our demise. These initiatives represent the DIY side
before or after it.
of redesigning death.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, driven by advances in
computing, US tech company eterni.me claims it will soon offer
algorithmic facsimiles of deceased loved ones, which live on in
cloud servers. Google’s Inactive Account Manager, deletes or shares
deceased users’ data according to instructions left behind, while Facebook app My Memorials creates
digital obituaries, guest books, and photo albums. All fall into a range of digital death services now
emerging in the field of thanatosensitive design, from Thanatos, the Greek god for death.
What we need is a new art of dying.
20 | ART OF DYING