Pandemic puts death positive movement front and center

“Death is not a failure but a sacred transition that awaits us all,” concluded Chenxing Han, Buddhist chaplain and author, in a recent article on dying the Buddhist way in Religion News.  
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has made this “sacred transition” all but impossible to ignore, resulting in a more powerful embrace of what GWS dubbed the “Dying Well” trend in early 2019. This trend took a deep look at the death positive movement, concluding that a “better death” is integral to a “well life.”
The convergence of the pandemic with this already-incubating “death positive” movement—which includes the addressing of significant environmental concerns around traditional burials and cremation—has been like rocket fuel to start-ups aiming to update our views on the inevitable end of life. Entrepreneurs are tackling issues from eliminating the stigma around talking about death and dying to changing the way funerals are planned (the cool kids are planning their own—and think “party!” not “doom and gloom!”) to rethinking how we can leave the earth, giving our bodies—including all their rich nutrients—back to it and urging the Western world to consider bringing death back into the home and out of the hospital.
In a keynote interview at last month’s Global Wellness Summit, B.J. Miller, the physician and co-founder of the recently launched therapy service Mettle Health, a start-up that provides support for patients and caregivers confronting serious illness, remarked, “COVID-19 is such an important opportunity and moment. Death has become less abstract, like something that happens to ‘somebody else,’ and where we have to confront our fear of it head-on. This is really life-affirming stuff because death is the great clarifying force; it’s precious because it makes clear what matters in our lives.”
Miller was interviewed by Shoshana Ungerleider, physician, journalist and founder of the End Well Project (featured image), which focuses on driving a cultural shift around the end-of-life experience. If you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic, you’re in luck! End Well is hosting its free, annual event TOMORROW (December 10): Take 10 Presented by End Well will celebrate and share stories of caregiving, grief and loss, end of life, social isolation, and mental health.
“COVID-19 has shown us all how fragile life is and made conversations about illness and end of life more real for people of all ages. We believe now is the time to engage with the hard stuff, to find solace, gather in solidarity, and surface solutions to move forward from this dark time. Take 10 encourages all of us to take just 10 minutes to reflect on our lives, what matters most to us, and talk about the end of it with the people we care about,” says Ungerleider.
The packed agenda includes Atul Gawande, author of the groundbreaking Being Mortal; Maria Shriver; actor Blair Underwood and family; TV host Andy Cohen; the Who’s lead singer Roger Daltrey; and many more. Sign up to attend the free Take 10 Presented by End Well event today.

Summit Trend in the News

Have You Organised Your Death Party? – Elle UK

From planning your own life-affirming funeral (Exit Here) to attending a mock one for yourself, dying has never been more personalized. Pick the canapes, the drinks, and the music your guests enjoy. If you want a traditional coffin, be sure to make it a memorable one (Crazy Coffins) or go green with the Infinity Burial Suit from start-up Coeio.
The Death Positive Movement Encourages Us to Face Death Directly – Nerdist 

History and background of the death positive movement—from the rise of death cafes to facing the social inequities around death and, of course, COVID-19’s long-lasting effects on the movement.
The Future of Death Tech – Forbes 

Tech start-ups have taken on the details of death so you don’t have to. Everydays lets families plan funerals and share memories remotely, while GoodTrust can preserve a loved one's digital presence, and Digital Thereafter works on making estate planning and afterlife wishes easier to manage. Then there’s a raft of new companies tapping technology to reimagine burials (Recompose, BIOS Urn).
Spiritfarer,’ a game about the afterlife, seeks to ease the terror of death – Washington Post 

There’s a new game in town, and it’s all about the afterlife and easing the terror of death. Described as a “cozy management game about dying,” Spiritfarer was released in August 2020 and is designed to help users understand what’s next.
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