Long Beach
California, USA

After many conversations about death, dying, and the ways in which millennials perceive end of life issues, Suzanne Engelder, a hospice program manager, suggested that her intern, Caitlin Shea, create a Before I Die wall on her college campus. Bringing the wall to California State University Long Beach provided an opportunity for students and faculty to contemplate their lives, consider what gives them meaning, and share their aspirations in a very public way. Through the act of writing these thoughts down in public, Engelder and Shea hoped individuals would be intentional about the process.

Because California State University Long Beach is a large campus with most students commuting to school, Engelder and Shea sought to offer an event that would build a sense of community. The general response was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Many of the students and faculty who stopped, paused, and considered the responses on the wall felt moved with a sense of compassion and empathy for their fellows. Some responded with tears, slight smiles, and even laughter.

I want to complete the circle of my life.

I want to free myself.

I want to achieve educational equality.

I want to find purpose.

I want to heal from my rape.

I want to order something without looking at the price.

I want to see proof that god exists.

I want to have my second chance at life.

I want to buy my parents a home.

I want to let go of regret.

Built by Suzanne Engelder and Caitlin Shea

May 2017

Photos by Caitlin Shea