A space to commemorate the life of a loved one who is soon to pass
Created: March 27th, 2019
The Death Shower gives a positive spin on death by providing a space to commemorate the life of a loved one who is soon to pass. This area of gathering allows those in celebration to privately skim through past shared experiences, publicly share stories they would like to pass on, and interact in a natural space dedicated to the afterlife. A private room featuring a digitally rendered timeline allows friends and family members to fully realize the significance of the loved one’s life and revisit shared experiences altogether. Key moments can be pulled from the timeline to a public momento created to help pass on stories and legacies to future visitors. Through empathy and a restated hope for the future, the Death Shower flips the dark narrative surrounding the topic of death to instead recognize a fruitful chapter coming to a close. The Death Shower is a direct response to growing concerns surrounding spatial and environment hazards imposed by traditional cemeteries. The communal space allows visitors to lessen their environmental impact and create a sense of community through the universal language of life and death. Through this experience, the goal is not only for the dying individual to feel more significant and loved, but also give solace to the loved ones' friends and families that the loved one is leaving the world feeling loved.
I. Pre-Death Shower Invites
A caring individual will take the initiative to organize the death shower for a dying loved one. First, he will go on to the death shower website to organize the event. He will be prompted to enter information, such as the patient name, the location of the hospital, the time of the Death Shower, and the names of all the guests to be invited to the Death Shower.
Then, guests will receive a physical invite that provides information about the specific Death Shower. This invite will have a link to RSVP, the option to upload a photo to commemorate the dying individual, which will be a part of the large timeline, and a password which will be used to confirm the guests on the day of the death shower.
II. Day of Death Shower
On the day of the death shower, all the guests and the dying individual will enter the facility within the hospital. If they arrive earlier, there will be a waiting room for everyone to relax. When the time comes, users will enter the proper death shower room through an IPad interface by entering the password from their RSVP.
As everybody walks in, a voice recording will play, reminding the users of the positive spin the death shower brings to a dying individual. Once the users settle down in their seats, the timeline compiled with everyone's memories with the dying individual will appear in a front screen. From there, guests can go up to the photos, click on them, and begin to talk about the specific memory to elicit positive emotions from the dying individual and the other guests. From there, guests will repeat this process until everybody has shared or everybody comfortable with sharing has shared.
III. Post Death Shower
After the sharing event, everyone will leave the room and have the option to either leave the facility or enter the “shared timeline room.” This is the room where the timelines of individuals of past showers where will be plastered around the space. The intention of this room is to create a sense of empathy among the dying individual that the experience of death is not something that they only experience, but a positive experience that everyone can experience.
At the beginning of the process, we took the time to brainstorm what areas of memorialization our group was interested in exploring. We soon realized that many examples of memorialization give rise to certain emotions, which would be important to consider. Thus, each member of our group wrote down emotions that we wanted our project to address.
We observed many similar ideas being jotted down, such as empathy and positive outlook. This helped set the foundation for what would soon be addressed by our proposal.
We created a concept which would help people commemorate their loved one in an area designated to the memorialization of those who have passed. This idea was inspired by a desire to alleviate the concern of space-consuming burial sites by creating a communal area dedicated to this space of commemoration. This desire to create an area for intimacy and community was also largely motivated by the issue of kodokushi.
Since the prompt asked to create a memorial for someone who has not yet passed away, we created a memorialization tool for those who are aware that they will be passing away in the near future. Our audience is thus mainly catered towards hospital patients with terminal illnesses but is accessible by people who are not within this specific demographic.
Behind the Name
The term “Death Shower” is a nod to the well-known “Baby Shower” in which party members “shower” the person who is expecting, typically the soon-to-be-mother, with presents in anticipation of the birth of the child. Our Death Shower hints at this anticipation while creating a space for people to celebrate the entirety of a person’s life, who we will be referred to as “loved one”, in stark contrast to counting down the seconds to their death.
In thinking through this narrative, we spent time thinking of questions that would be important for us to answer in order to enhance the story behind our proposal. Such questions include the ones written below (i.e. who sponsors this and who staffs it)
To retain both intimacy and a public sphere of community, we generated spaces for both a private party and a public gathering. To combat loneliness often tied with kodokushi, we decided that the private area would be responsible for retelling the significance of the loved one. To remind others that they are not alone in their suffering and re-instill a sense of community, our public gathering area would allow people to find themselves in the stories of others.
We believe that storytelling is done best in a face-to-face setting through objects with a visually interactive element. In the tech-centric year of 2030, most of our artifacts have been curated and collected through digital means. The Death Shower thus revolves around digital memories of the loved one featuring a private room to sift through digital content while remaining in a face-to-face setting and a public room to sift through the content of others. The private room feeds into the public room to allow for the realization of someone’s life impacting the lives of others to the fullest extent. Images from the private party show up on the walls of the public space, with friends, family members, and strangers able to bask in the newly formed images of the loved one. As citizens acclimated to the publicity of our private lives, a value which technology has superimposed onto our lifestyle, the publicity of these digital traces has already been widely accepted by the community.
To prevent others from walking into a private party, we implemented the password to act as a barrier from strangers. We wanted to ensure that those who used the Death Shower as purely a private matter could do so in their desired setting. Otherwise, we afforded the option to use the Death Shower as a purely people-watching space for those without a private agenda.
Similar to services positioned around time specifications, the Death Shower also provides a waiting area for those who may come early. This area conveniently happens to be the public space that succeeds the private party gatherings. Early arrivers may use this public space to reflect on what they might want to consider going into the party and fully feel the impact of the loved one’s change on the public environment.
Below is a summation of the above thought process written out as the user flow
For our final deliverable, we wanted to leverage our academic backgrounds in architecture and design by creating a model and an interactive high-fidelity prototype of the website and check-in system.
As such, the first iteration of the website was creating using figma: https://www.figma.com/proto/fVaUNp3WO7caNvYBWphrK407/Death-Shower-Screens?node-id=0%3A1&scaling=min-zoom&redirected=1 and the first iteration of the physical invitation is the following:
We also worked through what the timeline would look like using Adobe XD and incorporated those designs into our final rendering.
“Until the early 20th century people died at home with loved ones but now they die alone in a hospital or nursing home.”  In fact in Japan as of 2017 there are 4,000 deaths a day, which is why the trend has now been coined “kodokushi” or “lonely death.”  Given this fact, it is important that we consider technology that can help make the experience of death a more positive one. Projects such as Constellation Park by Columbia University are helping people have a more peaceful interpretation of death and similarly the Modern Elder Academy in Baja California Sur, Mexico, is helping to transform the way people view death so that they can ultimately see a “good death as part of a well life.”  As places like this are created, we should think of how we can have technology enhance the experience.
One of the most important questions we need to address better is the significance of the death shower and who the stakeholders are. We explain the concept of "kodokushi" but we need to spend time delving into why a death shower is a solution for that problem.; thus, one of our challenges was getting across to our audience why our project is compelling and needed 10 years from now.
The following are additional questions we would like to consider:
We believe we came up with a clever idea and we spent significant time thinking of all of the details related to such an event, such as who would staff, why a hospital would be interested in it, whether couches were better than chairs, etc. However, in being so meticulous, it seems we had a harder time conveying the bigger picture. We should look to clarify the “why” of this project, and less so on the “who” and “what”. We emphasized creating time at the beginning of our future projects to look into the purpose of it all before digging into the specifics.
Since our presentation went overtime, we found it essential to keep an eye on timing for the future so that we do not interfere with the planned classroom schedule. We would have hoped to have a better outcome for our final presentation, but moving forward we will remind ourselves of the overall objective of our proposal as that might help us tell the narrative more clearly and in a short time span.
This project is only listed in this pool. Be considerate and think twice before sharing.
A space to commemorate the life of a loved one who is soon to pass