Dying to be Heard - Discovering hindrances to the inclusion of user needs in the Finnish funerary services

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Bachelor's thesis
Major of Design
Degree programme
Bachelor's Programme in Design
65 + 12
Funerary services in Finland are deeply religiously rooted, with funerary services largely governed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Statistical evidence on the other hand shows the growing trend of secularization in Finland, presenting an evolving need for more personalized funerary services that align with the population’s diverse beliefs about death. In response to the apparent societal changes in Finland, this thesis aims to explore the ability of the current funerary service to adapt and cater to the changing needs of its users. By doing this, user needs are placed at the centre of the funerary services. This thesis explores the Will-to-Funeral segment of the service, which includes the part of the service from writing a will or testament to the funeral itself. Traditional service design approaches are supplemented with a system thinking perspective to accommodate for the complex web of organizational stakeholders as well as the larger societal context which encapsulates the system. The purpose of this thesis is to propose a service solution to promote user-centredness in the existing Finnish Funerary Service System (FFSS). To achieve this the current Will-to-Funeral service is examined, and its hindrances are evaluated as possible points of leverage for a service solution. In doing so, this thesis aims to provide a systematic solution proposal for the promotion of pre-mortem funerary planning. The traditional service design method complemented by systems thinking offers a tangible framework for the evaluation of the existing service systems hindrances as possible leverage points. The existing Will-to-Funeral service in Finland is fragmented due to the amount of seemingly unconnected organizational stakeholders in charge of service segments. Individual initiatives of streamlining the service are limited to the reach of the initializing stakeholders, resulting in difficult to scale service solutions. Furthermore, a set of systematic hindrances are revealed through the framework of Meadow’s leverage points in a system. As a result, a service proposal is introduced as a possible solution to the identified hindrances to user-centredness. This thesis does this by presenting a new central digitized Will-to-Funeral service, in which users can write their funerary testaments, and the bereaved can access important documents for the organization of the funeral to streamline the Will-to-Funeral process. This central database also offers stakeholders in the FFSS a unique chance to monitor trends in user needs and develop accordingly by collecting data from funerary testaments in a central database. The solution proposal presented by this thesis is a first iteration of a service solution; however, for the implementation of any service solutions, government collaboration as well as further collaboration with both organizational stakeholders and users of the service is recommended. By employing user-centred design and systems thinking, this thesis offers insights into the evolution of funerary practices in Finland and suggests pathways for enhancing the Will-to-Funeral service to align with the multifaceted beliefs and needs of individuals in an evolving societal landscape.
Chun, Namkyu
Thesis advisor
Veselova, Emilija
funerary service, service design, systems thinking, sustainability, strategic design, social sustainability, burial practices
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