Considering the end

Jon Mooallem writes in California Sunday Magazine on “Death, Redesigned: A legendary design firm, a corporate executive, and a Buddhist-hospice director take on the end of life:”

So much about death is agonizingly unknowable: When. Where. Lymphoma or lightning strike. But Bennett recognized there are still dimensions of the experience under our control. He started zeroing in on all the unspoken decisions around that inevitability: the aesthetics of hospitals, the assumptions and values that inform doctors’ and families’ decisions, the ways we grieve, the tone of funerals, the sentimentality, the fear, the schlock. The entire scaffolding our culture has built around death, purportedly to make it more bearable, suddenly felt unimaginative and desperately out of date.

The piece tells the story of a stillborn app that was hacking at the opportunity to apply a consumer centric approach to genuine end of life issues. A platform that could do everything from making wills easier to make and update from a mobile device, draft and schedule letters to family that could continue after your death, and generally better organize those decisions.

It feels right to move in the direction of more direct control of all of that. The industries that exist from social to legal dealing with end of life haven’t had technology applied to them yet. Making those decisions easier by empowering people through technology would change a lot of lives.