WSJ: Online Memorial Services: After a Death, Celebrating a Life Online

This is an issue for all of us – we need better solutions…


Mourning is a core human experience in dire need of some new digital ideas. Illustration by Scott Bakal

I volunteered to set up a site that friends around the world could visit as my friend’s virtual gravestone. I wanted to allow people to share their digital memories—a big quilt we all could keep sewing together.

I tried a dozen online memorial services and found most only frustrated me. Mourning is a core human experience in dire need of some new digital ideas.

None of the services could help me make a truly beautiful tribute. The industry leader, Legacy.com, and its smaller rivals lacked smooth and simple interfaces for sharing photos, videos and stories. Where’s the Tumblr for the bereaved? Even worse than the aesthetic failings, it was hard to tell which services would even be around in a few years.

I settled on ForeverMissed.com, one of the few services that met my minimum criteria: a one-time fee, search-engine visibility and zero ads.

Who Controls a Digital Legacy?

Initially, my most basic requirement was that the site needed to stick around forever. But “forever” is a hard promise to make on the Internet. Legacy, which publishes about 75% of the obituaries in North America each year through tie-ups with newspapers, charges an annual $20 sponsorship fee to keep memorial sites visible. I prefer to pay once, rather than every year.


This is, in part, a business-model problem: Your descendants probably won’t pay to keep you online 150 years from now, nor would you likely pay thousands up front to keep a website of yourself or a loved one online for that long. So companies seek alternative income. Legacy has its newspaper business. Unless you sponsor a page for $50, iMorial.com includes ads. GoneTooSoon.org tries to sell visitors virtual candles, kittens and angel wings, which felt even worse.

Click on the top link for the full story.

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