Tracking Grief: Dana Greenfield

As we’ve been thinking about mood lately–tracking it, nudging it and even reversing it, here’s a project that contemplates one experience that accumulates all moods – mourning. For anyone who has experienced grief and mourning, grab your tissues; and if you haven’t yet had the profound experience, grab a pen and take notes. I wish had this project in the back of my head when I lost my dad 11 years ago.

Dana Greenfield shared her beautiful project Leaning into Grief at a Quantified Self Conference in Amsterdam.  Dana’s project is a timeless tracking experience that inspires us to focus on the little things in life, because it is in those tiny details (as small as a Q-tip) where experience, relation, and life really show up and matter.

Dana Greenfield’s mom was a surgeon, professor, researcher, entrepreneur, blogger, tennis player, and a mentor to many medical students. Unexpectedly, she passed away in February, 2014.

Dana felt a need to hold on to what she was feeling and experiencing. When she came upon something that reminded her of her mother, she logged her thoughts and feelings using various tools (pen/paper, flickr, googlesheets). Her tracking became so specific and varied that she designed a tracking system to better understand her own grief and the role her mother continues to play in her life. Dana structured a logging form to identify multiple moods, because she found that with grieving, she could feel sad, nostalgic and also happy at the same time. She often found herself feeling what she called “warmed” which she identified meaning both “fond” and “grateful.”

With tracking her grief, Dana learns that her mother’s effect in her life continues to morph even after her death. By thinking and remembering her, Dana’s mother remains a big part of her life and continues to have a great impact. She says, “So far, each writing and logging is a reading enabling just a moment of interpersonal and intergenerational exchange that remains far more malleable, and full of potential, therefore, meaningful than the memorabilia on the shelf or in the spreadsheet.”

We hope you can join us to share your learnings from a project, or simply be inspired at this year’s 2018 Quantified Self Conference in Portland on September 22-23. Register here.

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