Word Cloud Project Helps Personalize Death

Facing the end of a loved one’s life can be overwhelming, especially when family and friends are unprepared for the many stages and range of emotions associated with grieving.  And a cold, sterile hospital environment can make the process of losing a family member even more difficult to bear.  But a new project, the subject of a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, is giving families at Mc Master University Hospital an opportunity to use word clouds to better cope with the death of a loved one.

According to a recent CBC News Health report, medical staff at Mc Master have started to offer families of terminal patients the opportunity to create a word cloud through the Word Cloud Project.  Participating in the project gives loved ones a way to strengthen their connection with the dying relative by selecting words which describe their personality, physical characteristics and things they enjoyed, creating something much more than a keepsake.

The end result, a collection of memories and a celebration of life, can be used at a memorial service or shared with with family and friends.  Creating the word cloud also provides a vehicle for families to share stories and fond memories.  The process serves as a kind of grief therapy which helps families and health care providers navigate end of life with greater compassion and a less clinical atmosphere.

The Word Cloud Project is part of a growing interest within the medical community to provide health care workers with better end of life training and to humanize death.  This shift away from impersonal hospital care can not only comfort patients and families but may also help prevent health care employees from suffering burnout.  Most people would agree that they would prefer to die at home, surrounded by family.  But when that option is not possible, programs like the Word Cloud Project can help create a more person-centered environment for dying patients and their loved-ones.

To learn more about initiatives that help create a better death for patients and their grieving families, visit the Mc Master University Health Sciences Newsmagazine by following this link.