Dying Well Initiative

2022 Trends

TREND 1: The Grief Gap

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on ethnic and racial minorities. “Minority groups are disproportionately affected by chronic medical conditions and lower access to healthcare, [and] are more likely to experience living and working conditions that predispose them to worse outcomes.” These impacts lead to what is known as the Grief Gap, where minorities face significantly greater losses throughout historic cycles.

Sources:
i: Introduction to COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Available at: CDC
ii: The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the United States. Available at: Oxford Academics

TREND 2: Pre-planning IS Adulting

The pandemic has caused a great shift in the way many younger adults view mortality—not only their own, but of those around them as they also watch their parents enter older adulthood. With a firm footing in the digital age, information management after death is also a significant component of the mortality conversation. With the younger generations’ desire for sustainability, and the significant increases in overall general costs over time, young people are planning for end-of-life like never before.

Sources:
i: The COVID-19 Wake-Up Call: Survey Finds 72% of American Millennials with Wills Created or Updated in the Past Year. Available at: CISION PR Newswire 
ii: Millennials, Feeling Their Mortality During COVID-19, Start Writing Their Wills. Available at: The Wall Street Journal

TREND 3: The Metaverse, Digital Graveyards and NFT’s Emerge for End of Life & Grief

As space in cemeteries is scarcer than ever and alternative methods of disposal continue to take hold, digital real estate offers an endless source for memorializing loved ones and monetizing digital assets. Remember Metaverse made international waves as they released the first Memorial Stone Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) in November of 2021. Virtual gatherings in the metaverse now include avatar-based gatherings including grief circles, memorial services and celebrations of life.

Sources:
i: The World’s 1st Commemorative NFTs & Dedicated Metaverse. Available at: Remember Metaverse | Place for the loved ones 
ii: Would You Pay to Be ‘Buried’ in a Metaverse Cemetery? Available at: Rolling Stone
iii: Four Things you Might Not Know about your Digital Afterlife. Available at: Science Focus

TREND 4: Scaling up to Address Global Trauma, Loss, and Grief

Our world has faced multi-faceted grief and trauma through the pandemic, and in one way or another, everyone has experienced some form of loss: loved-ones, jobs, friendships, and our overall way of life. The decreasing state of the mental health of the world at large leads us to presume that the rate of suicide will likely increase unless we take measures to mitigate the sense of hopelessness developed over the past two years: “We need to consider scaling-up the counseling interventions commonly utilized for working with grieving clients.” The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of end-of-life care and how significantly it has been missing from humanitarian response. Helping loved-ones on their journey to end-of-life can bring a great sense of peace, and therefore should be considered part of the grieving process.

Sources:
i: Scaling up to Address Global Trauma, Loss, and Grief Associated with COVID-19. Available at: American Phycological Association
ii: A Field Manual for Palliative Care in Humanitarian Crises. Available at: Journal of Palliative Medicine

TREND 5: A Refocus on Bereavement Leave Policies and Workplace Bereavement

With the significant loss and grief that has come with the global pandemic, there has been a significant shift in the understanding and support of the grieving process. In the home, the workplace, and even at different levels of government, we can see advocacy for time to properly process the grief and trauma that comes with loss. The direct impact of the pandemic has created this awareness and opened the door for a deeper and more progressive conversation about grief.

Sources:
i: After a Year of Loss, Grief Support should be a Permanent Benefit. Available at: Fast Company
ii: Government Bereavement Leave Petition. Available at: Evermore
iii: Supporting Employees Navigating Grief and Substance Use. Available at: Talent Culture