Dying Well Initiative
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.
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, 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.
TREND 1: More Use of Technology during End of Life
We’ll see a rise in tech-enabled businesses around death and dying as well as grief. More and more companies are emerging. An article for Vox publication written by Eleanor Cummins from January of 2020 titled, “Why millennials are the ‘death positive’ generation,” provides a detailed explanation and overview. Robotics, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) solutions will be rapidly supporting all areas of grief and death, especially given the fact that with the population aging comes the population dying.. As mentioned in the link below, VR is now being used by hospice and hospitals to offer relief to terminally ill patients and those living with dementia. A charity hospice in London offers dying patients the opportunity to run with wild horses in Iceland, go skydiving, or tour Venice’s canals aboard a gondola, all without leaving their beds.
TREND 2: Conversations about Death/End of Life Will Increase and Become Normalized
In many cultures, there is resistance, or even silence, to conversations surrounding dying, death and grief. We predict that as people begin to engage in activities such as living funerals, death dinner parties and death cafes, conversations around death, dying and grief will become normalized.
TREND 3: Green Burials on the Rise
In these troubling ecological times, many people are turning to greener options post-death. Not only is it better for the environment, but it is also a much more personalized and cost-effective manner to say goodbye to loved ones.
TREND 4: The Use of Death Doulas
In North America and Great Britain, there is a rise in the existence of death/end of life doulas. Similar to a birth doula, this person will assist a dying individual and, typically, also the family before, during and after a death occurs in order to provide physical, emotional, psychological and even spiritual support.
TREND 5: More Grief Support in Hospitality and the Workplace
As the wellness world begins to speak about death and grief more openly, many hospitality groups shall grasp the importance of grief retreats and look at extending their wellness offering to include such programs.
Likewise, with the recognition that grief costs employers billions annually, and bereavement takes more than a few days, often months or even years, employers will create more flexible and supportive benefits related to family loss. https://grief.com/grief-in-the-workplace/
The Global Wellness Institute serves as an umbrella organization for numerous Initiatives, that are independently chaired and run. The resources, editorial, research and opinions presented by the Initiatives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Global Wellness Institute.