The latest wave of technological innovations within the software industry aids those who experience the loss of a loved one. The industry is known as “death tech” – but it’s not as bleak as it sounds. We speak to founders and explore some of the innovations that have come to fruition in recent years.
The emergence of various apps and platforms to help people with the grieving process may pave the way to a better future when approaching the subject of death. The reality is the organisational burden following a passing is laden with bureaucratic duties at a time of acute emotional circumstances.
The evolution of a number of tech start-ups address these challenges and allows users to prepare for death by both reducing the burden on their close ones and allowing family members and close relatives to spend time grieving. The technology can provide patients in palliative care a chance to communicate their final wishes to loved ones in relative comfort.
Art Shaikh was inspired to create two proprietary platforms to assist with the aftermath of death.
When his father passed away. He founded DigitalWill.com and CircleIt, two different but complementary players in the world of death tech. “I’m an accidental founder,” he said. “Back in 2016, the idea was born from a very unique gift.”
Before his father died, he gave Art a shoebox full of CDs, DVDs, pictures, notes, letters, and cards, asking for them to be given to his loved ones after he was gone. Each of the items was for a different occasion that Art’s father knew he wouldn’t make it to from getting married to going to college.
It was upon receiving this gift that Art realised the need for technology could do the same for others, so that they could be sure that their messages would be safe, without the risks of relying upon a “human in the middle”.
Digital will offer a service that guides individuals through the logistics of death, in particular writing a will. Art’s other app, Circleit, focuses on maintaining relationships and legacies beyond the grave. This ingenious app is dramatically revolutionising the aftermath of a passing, as users can send cards, flowers or gifts to loved ones even after they die by making arrangements for them to be sent on a future date or milestone.
Like Art, Emily Cummin founded her death tech start-up after the death of a loved one. In her case, her struggle with grief after her grandfather passed away inspired her to create Untangle, a digital service that is there to help with life after loss. “We help people rebuild their lives after a loss,” Emily told us, before pointing out that maybe we shouldn’t be referring to these services using the term “death tech” at all, but rather “grief tech”.
No matter what we call it, what is so beautiful about the missions of these founders is not only their respect for those they have lost but their compassion for the living. The death tech industry may be dismally named, but it is bursting with life and powered by love.