My practice of visualizing end-of-life issues was something I fell into in 2014 by attending a session put on by Yolo Hospice on the Five Wishes form, a plan that includes emotional and spiritual components normally well outside the scope of an advance care plan. I was taking visual notes at this talk, which I shared with the speaker. From this a partnership was developed as I visually helped Yolo Hospice spread the word about the importance of advance care planning through Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End throughout Northern California.
Thinking other graphic recorders might be interested in this work, I convened informal meetings on this topic at the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) conferences in 2015, 2016 and 2019 and set up an online portal where we could share our ideas about formalizing this work. In summer 2020, Prowpannarit “Praew” Mallikamarl held a virtual session at the IFVP conference on her experience training those working with the dying in Thailand to use visuals.
Galvanized, a core group of us with a strong interest in the field of end of life and visualization began meeting every two weeks to figure out who we were and who we wanted to become. Visualizing End of Life Issues (VEOLI) has continued to evolve ever since.
We are continually learning about new ways that visuals can help the dying and their loved ones make sense of, come to terms with, and memorialize a sacred transition.