Wellness Technology is a Billion Dollar Industry. Here Comes the Next Wave: Death Positive & Grief Wellness
The World Health Organization estimates that 25% of all people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, with roughly 450 million individuals currently struggling with a condition.
In the US, Silicon Valley has been quick to offer solutions.
Nearly 10,000 mental health apps currently crowd the market, with meditation tools such as Calm evolving into billion-dollar companies. And the trend isn't slowing down. The behavioral health software market is projected to reach $2.31 billion by 2022, growing 14.8% annually, according to a MarketsandMarkets research report.
Yet, few of the wellness apps and technology companies are focused specifically on something that 100% of people in the world will experience, grief and death.
The death positive trend in the United States has been gaining steam since 2013 when Death Over Dinner first became a thing. Since then, Sheryl Sandberg has written about it in her books. Arianna Huffington mentions the program often. Even the Obamas and Tim Ferris have participated. In general, Death Over Dinner estimates that more than 600,000 dinners have taken place over the last 7 years.
The goal of the program is simple: 80% of Americans say they want to die at home, and only 20% do. That, according to Michael Hebb, the founder of Death Over Dinner, is because so many of us don't talk about how we want to die. The only time that topic typically comes up is when it is too late to actually do anything.
So, getting people to talk more about dying well has been a major trend -- and in 2019, was even named one of the global wellness trends by the Global Wellness Institute.
"The biggest trend in wellness in general is the shift/expansion to a focus on mental wellness, but at the same time the specific category of grief is still too ignored," says Beth Mcgroarty, Director of Research and PR at the Global Wellness Institute.
Now, grief is taking center stage alongside dying well. Why? BEcause grief is for the living. 100% of us will die. Before that happens, 100% of us will experience grief.
And in the United States, we are particularly bad at grief.
"With very few grieving rituals in the U.S., people must rely on their own intuition for guidance, and that lonely and confusing time is usually not aided by a shared understanding of how to respond to grief the way it is in other cultures," writes Dr. Carder Stout for Goop. "The people around us walk on eggshells and are afraid to intervene. We try not to appear too disheveled, for this would be a sign of weakness. We are told to be strong, and we walk through fire, but yearn for a marker in the distance. We search for some sort of bearing, scanning the horizon in vain."
But there are a handful of companies actively working on righting this wrong -- and helping those who are deeply grieving find community, support, memorialization options, and more.
These five companies are making it a missing to talk openly about grief, identify what is wrong with grief in our culture right now, and each provide actionable steps we can all take to get more comfortable, know how to do what is right, and more.
These 5 brands are the ones to watch right now as those actively working to change our isolating grief culture.
Eterneva is a memorial diamond company that turns ashes into diamonds as another memorial option. They have been featured on Shark Tank (and got a deal with Mark Cuban), landed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and so much more.
But listen to them closely and you'll see that while the diamond is the product, the journey they've built around grief wellness is the real value add. They are partnering with Baylor University to research their customer base versus a control group to understand what is happening psychologically that has Eterneva customers faring better through grief than others.
"Our customers come to us deeply grieving, and then over the next 7-10 months we work with them, we see them start legacy projects," says Tracey Wallace, Head of Marketing at Eterneva." We see them talking to their friends and family about the person they lost. We see them telling stories, and bringing their loved one into the next phases of life with them. This is despite religious backgrounds and beliefs. This is despite age or race. It is fascinating, and we know something magical is happening here."
"When you are talking about grief theory, it implies that someone will be able to get over grief. I find that very problematic, but that's not what these diamonds do," says Dr. Candi Cann of Baylor, the lead researcher on the project. "I primarily look at the way people are creating new forms of memorialization surrounding grief. I'm really interested in the people that are having their diamonds made."
Reimagining Grief is a one-woman organization with Lis aKeefauver behind the helm. Now a Thrive Global VIP contributor, Lisa publishes a regular podcast, sells empathy cards, does events, and even helps corporations better work with grief in the office.
Her husband died in her arms years ago, and then her good friend did the same years later. Everything she does and sells is aimed at providing the language and experience she wishes she could have heard or had during those tough times.
What's Your Grief? is an organization spearheaded by two mental health professionals with over 20 years of experience with grief and bereavement. Suffice it to say, they know how to help.
With articles from the passing of time to the actual definition of grief itself, WYG also offers low-cost resources like books, e-courses, and webinars. They are one of the older players in this space, with tons of resources and a great community.
Lantern.io is a New York-based startup focused on end-of-life planning. Why? Because all the legality that come with a death are difficult, and require additional decisions and often come with surprises for those who are grieving.
But taking care of all of that work prior to death is currently a bit complicated -- except for if you use a service like Lantern. They make it easy to get all your paperwork in order so that when you pass, your loved one's will grieve, but they won't have to deal with as much bureaucracy. It might be the last gift you can give them, and what a worthwhile one!
Option B is the brainchild of Sheryl Sandberg's, the COO of Facebook. After the lost her husband years ago, she wrote a book titled Option B all about having to figure out what to do now since Option A was no longer -- well -- an option.
The Option B website covers everything to do with grief, grief from loss, grief from divorce, grief from job loss. Whatever it is that is causing you to grief, Option B has a community and articles from regular folks and celebrities alike to help you know you aren't alone in this experience.
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