Dying Well Initiative

2021 Trends

TREND 1: Discussing Grief in the Workplace

Employers will, for the first time, recognize that open conversations, benefits, and policy changes are not only important but critical to “returning to work.”

TREND 2: The Use of Psychedelics During End-of-Life Care

Studies are continually being conducted on how psychedelics can ease anxiety, depression, and other emotions associated with a terminal diagnosis.

Not only can people with terminal illnesses benefit from psychedelic use, but there is also substantial evidence that many people who have a psychedelic experience feel less fear about death and other natural cycles of life. This could be a great gateway to conversation on a topic that has previously been considered taboo or morbid.

TREND 3: Racial Equality 

Racial equality seems as unbalanced in death as in life. COVID-19 magnified the light shone on racial inequality in the US (and other colonized countries) by the deaths of George Floyd, Brionna Tayler, Ahmaud Arbery and many more. Many socioeconomic factors play into the disparity, along with a healthcare system riddled with systemic racism.


As we confront racism in other aspects of life, it is important that we confront racism in healthcare, death and grief.

TREND 4: Wearable Technologies

An increase in the importance of wearable technology to aid in both aging in place and managing healthcare as a tool for people to stay in their home setting as long as possible and maintain outpatient care with their doctors (the Fitbit or Apple watch are two examples, but this wearable tech is now able to keep track of heart rate and oxygen levels and to transmit that automatically). This tech will only become more sophisticated, particularly as people want to age in place and stay out of care homes.

Smartphone apps

Along these lines, I also think we will see a rise in smartphone apps to manage grief care, assist in EOL planning, keep advanced directive files, and allow virtual appointments with doctors, therapists, etc. The number of apps created just in the last few years has absolutely expanded. In Asia, there are numerous apps to virtually visit gravestones, make virtual offerings, burn virtual candles, etc. So the smartphone is becoming important not only in managing EOL planning but in providing virtual access to grief care and graveyard visits.


TREND 5: Popularization of Alternate Disposal Methods

Alternate disposal methods, such as composting the body, alkaline hydrolysis, natural burial, placing cremains in a sea reef, or turning the cremains into wearable jewelry or tattoos, are gaining more popularity. Additionally, more and more people are realizing the invasive nature of embalming and are declining to include that as part of their disposal choice. These trends are part of the global move toward caring for the land and becoming conscious of how choices impact the carbon footprint.