Background Just as pain medications aim to relieve physical suffering, supportive surrounding for death and dying may facilitate well-being and comfort. However, little has been written of the experience of or preferences for settings for death and dying.
Aim We investigate preferences for and reflections about settings for end-of-life (EoL) in an international sample of museum visitors.
Methods Data derive from a project teaming artists and craftspeople together to create prototypes of space for difficult conversations in EoL settings. These prototypes were presented in a museum exhibition, “Room for Death”, in Stockholm in 2012. As project consultants, we contributed a question to the public viewing the exhibition: “How would you like it to be around you when you are dying?” and analysed responses with a phenomenographic approach.
Results Five-hundred twelve responses were obtained from visitors from 46 countries. Responses were categorised in the following inductively– derived categories of types of deaths: The “Familiar”, “Larger-than life”, “Lone”, “Mediated” “Calm and peaceful”, “Sensuous”, “‘Green’”, and “Distanced” death. Responses could relate to one category or be composites uniting different categories in individual combinations.
Conclusion These data provide insight into different facets of contemporary reflections about death and dying. Despite the selective sample, the findings give reason to consider how underlying assumptions and care provision in established forms for EoL care may differ from people’s preferences. This project can be seen as an example of innovative endeavours to promote public awareness of issues related to death and dying, within the framework of health-promoting palliative care.
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