What We Learned At End Well 19
Just about eight short months after we launched our start-up, we headed south to San Francisco to one of the largest end-of-life symposiums in the country, End Well 19. We knew we would learn a lot about this rapidly-changing field, but we were blown away by the inspiring speakers on end-of-life care, grief and death positivity.
End Well is not just an organization that holds this yearly conference, but a “movement” that aims to normalize the conversation around mortality. End Well was founded by Shoshana Ungleider, M.D., who wrote about the event and the movement for the San Francisco Chronicle in an op-ed article: “Talking about death and dying doesn’t have to be difficult.”
We started our journey with a Death Over Dinner event with a health care emphasis. We were joined by social workers, nurses, hospice workers and doctors, all who were taking the opportunity to tackle difficult, but thought-provoking questions. Journalist Jim Parker who writes about hospice care also shared his experience in this article.
The next day, we heard from big-name celebrities like Meghan McCain who shared her experience of grief after the death of her father, Sen. John McCain, and country singer Tim McGraw who talked about his father’s death as well, and the meaning behind some of his music.
As designers, we were inspired by the creativity of Yoko Sen, a musician who spoke about the sounds we hear at the end of life. Instead of hospital beeps and buzzes, she imagines a world where final sounds could be soothing and beautiful. We also were wowed by a talk on “Building an Embodied Experience” by August de los Reyes, Chief Design Officer at Varo, who is a longtime advocate of inclusive design principles and is working to promote well-being through technology.
We also admired Dr. BJ Miller, who after a freak accident changed his life to focus on disability rights and palliative care and Adam Hayden, living with brain cancer, who is an active palliative care activist. Hayden says he shares his story to restore the patient voice in medicine.
Following the main event, we had the opportunity to meet so many other like-minded businesspeople from companies like Lantern and LifeWeb360, to name a few. So many smart people inspired, as we are, to make a more ,modern and transparent model for people to handle end-of-life choices.
We learned so much and are already planning on our next trip to End Well 20. We are thrilled to be in the midst of a changing landscape around death and dying.