the legacy kit

An end-of-life arrangement pre-planner

The legacy kit project prioritized the exploration of design research methods such as user interviews, and co-design workshops. This research primarily investigated death through a medical and social context. 

Role
Researcher

Timeline
September 2018 - December 2018

Problem Space

Western societies’ preconception of death is often seen as a taboo and negative subject.

Due to this social expectation to avoid this topic of conversation, there is little to no discussion about dying preparations and the procedures that follow a passing.

Design Opportunity

Use research to find ways to provoke healthy conversations around dying,

+ to formulate a user-centered kit for pre-planning end of life arrangements.

Why do we need to plan for something we won’t even be there for?  

1/ Having your preferences ready to go, makes it easier for your loved ones to process and handle
+for you to gain a sense of what the inevitable might look like when it’s time which can provide a bit of clarity and a peace of mind.

2/ Planning ahead also give you an opportunity to map out the financial savings you might need for your dream funeral/passing -dying is more expensive than you think.

3/Picking out all the specifics of your death can be an enjoyable process. some individuals take this very seriously, as these elements reflect on the legacy that one leaves behind.

A Designer's Role

The precedence shows us that there are many missing design values and elements in existing end-of-life arrangements pre-planners. This is where different types of designers can make some valuable additions + changes.

Working with a delicate topic such as death requires empathy, sensitivity, and consideration. The goal of design in this scenario is to make the process of preparing for death as seamless, comprehensible, and respectful as possible.

Secondary Research

To build a very simple understanding of death and the many related factors, I read many articles and watched talks and discussions. I made maps to document my research. This helped me holistically understand the different considerations of end-of-life situations.

Culture + Death

I investigated how different cultures carry out their end-of-life arrangements. This study made me realized that it’s important to consider the religious, cultural, and traditional aspects of passing.

Anxieties during the End-of-Life Process

I looked into what types of anxiety one might experience near death. It never occurred to me that death can have severe symptoms that can be extremely unpleasant. This is a good reminder that it may be uncomfortable for some to discuss death and that getting the timing right, and reading the situation is really important in order to have a safe and effective conversation.

Factors of Death Anxieties

Having been a griever myself, this empathy map was mostly channeled from my own experiences. This was an effective way to document all the pains and thoughts during the grieving . This helped me understand what I needed to incorporate and consider in a end-of-life arrangement.

Types of Care

Understanding the different periods of health and the care that is required during those times helped me understand that early conversations about death can be less stressful for both the patient and their loved ones.

Empathy Map

Having been a griever myself, this empathy map was mostly channeled from my own experiences. This was an effective way to document all the pains and thoughts during the grieving process. This helped me understand what I needed to incorporate and consider in a end-of-life arrangement.

Co-design Workshop

I wanted to see if I could manage to host a safe discussion about death while doing some user-testing for the prototype. 

We started with a  brain dump as an ice-breaker exercise,  

Then we moved on to answering some questions to get the talk going. 

We focused mainly on critiquing the initial prototype, the goodbye gallery, which was significant for the development of my newest prototype.

We ended off with making a line graph of the grieving journey.

Interview with my Grandmother

The decision to interview my grandma about pre-planning her death took some consideration. I was worried that I would offend her, or distress her. Well, my grandma apparently has her plan all figured out already. In fact, she has been paying her installment for the funeral service for a while now. She says that she wanted to handle the payment- she sees it as an investment in herself.  

She also made it clear that she didn’t want 

anyone to mess up her funeral plans.  

“If your mother makes the wrong choice, I will sit up from my grave and slap her,” she said to me. 

It was really inspiring to see my grandmother getting ready for her own passing. She explained that her 

experiences with planning my grandfather and my great-grandmother's death were very difficult and expensive, hence she would rather figure this out now so that we would not have to take on that burden. 

 

Although my goal from the beginning of this process was to make pre-planning fun, I realized, after my conversation with my grandmother that I had to touch on some of the more serious matters and not just floral arrangements and the reception catering. It grounded me and made me think about the more technical parts of planning.  

The Legacy Kit

The legacy kit is a file folder, with different colors, that indicate the various categories of end-of-life arrangements. These specific colors were picked out in relation to the various factors and elements of arrangement: blue for legal matters, brown for burial plans, etc.  

 

This would be a practical option for people whose financial priority is not for pre-planning death but are interested in organizing their preferences, without having to pay for service immediately. 

The Legacy Website

Once the kit has been received, the recipient will be able to gain access to the documents and information on specific categories of arrangements. They can then read about their options and print off the document when they’re ready, fill it out and place it in the corresponding file. It’s also important to notify the family and loved ones about the location of the kit.

In order for me to actually be able to map out all the factors that should be included and explored in the pre-planner, I decided to make a map and sort them into appropriate categories. There are red, yellow, green dots to indicate the difficulty of planning these factors.  

A problem I had was with technical matters. It was not safe for a kit with little to no security, hold important information such as social security numbers etc.  This is an issue that needs to be investigated further.  

Factor Map

User Journey

The user journey mapped out the chronological process from start to finish of the legacy kit. I considered the user's actions, potential highlights, and pain points as well as the actionable opportunities and stakeholder touchpoints. 

Future Developments

 

+Further Research 

There is still a lot to figure out and explore. I can’t imagine how long it would take to gather a substantial amount of information before ever executing this kit.

 

+User-testing in real scenarios 

It would be really insightful to see how receptive the population would be to own a kit such as this one. It would be a harder concept to test in public. 

 

+Better security 

How could we bring this concept to another level of information (How can we store more sensitive information)? Should we even bring it there, or should we just leave it as a low-security kit? 

Check out some of my other projects

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