Technology has seeped into nearly every aspect of our lives. And why not? The internet—and accompanying tech outgrowth—is, after all, driven by human intelligence to meet our own needs and realize our dreams. Even arenas of life that don’t obviously seem to call for technology can benefit from it. One of those is funerals and memorial services.
Few of us want to think about our own deaths. Yet, chances are, when your time is nigh, you’ll have opinions about what you want to happen when you’re gone: how you want your family and friends to honor your passing and celebrate your life. Planning your own funeral is an excellent way to be proactive so the burden doesn’t fall to your family when they’re grieving and so you can prepare things the way you want. And technology can help. Whether you use a shareable online document or a funeral planning app, a digital platform will help things run smoothly later on. No need to worry about a notebook or paper plan that’s easy to misplace or lose altogether, and you can start planning years in advance. Digital tools also make it easy to share plans and involve other loved ones with ease, even if they live far away.
Here are five ways to integrate tech into your funeral or memorial service.
Gone are the days of using paper for all our records. We bank online, complete contracts online, and communicate with each other online, so why not using internet tools for funeral planning? There are several funeral planning apps out there that will do things as simple as release final messages on Facebook when you’re gone to more complex tasks like specifying details for your service and burial wishes.
The big benefit of this kind of tech is to record exactly what you want in a place that will be easy to access for whoever will have to charge of carrying out your memorial service and other wishes, no matter where they are. Good apps will also help you think through details you might not come up with on your own. My Wonderful Life is one reputable option for planning your service. Everplans, another option, takes care of a different set of considerations: assets, medical details, and insurance policies. Storing all this in one place is sure to save a big headache for your family later.
Obituaries are no longer just for newspapers. Like many other things, this content has moved online, where it can be widely shared and appreciated by those who are far away. A good obituary can be much more than a simple list of who survives you and the tasks you accomplished during your life. Writing your own obituary gives you the opportunity to be silly, share a secret, or otherwise let your personality shine to those who want to remember you.
Legacy.com partners with newspapers across the country to publish obituaries online and also provides accompanying guestbooks where others can share their memories of the deceased. For larger families who may not agree on what exactly should be in the obituary, this is a nice democratic option that allows multiple people to share their thoughts.
There are a lot of details that go into creating a good memorial service, and music is an important one. Good music can help create an emotional connection to the deceased as well as a more personalized experience overall. Rather than choosing from a generic list of “funeral-appropriate” songs, why not make a playlist of music you (or the deceased) love?
Pandora and Spotify are both great tools for this. Choose based on what the person already used, so there will be a built-up library of songs to choose from. If you’re building your own in your planning process, it’s as simple as adding another playlist to your selection. Just make sure you include your login info in your planning app or documents.
Build a memorial page
Inevitably, not everyone who wants to make it to a memorial service will be able to. What’s more, friends and family might want a way to revisit someone’s life and share memories with each other beyond the event itself. Memorial sites or pages provide an opportunity to do this as well as allow those who can’t travel to honor someone’s passing. They also offer a convenient place to share info about the service itself, minimizing the work a family has to do in preparation.
Memorial sites often have features like photo and video galleries, timelines, and digital candle-lighting. Here are seven good options that have been around for a few years. If you don’t want to try out a whole new platform, Facebook also offers a way to memorialize an account and turn its wall into a memorial page. Doing so simply requires assigning a legacy contact who will manage the page after your death.
Another way to help people who live far away and can’t travel, to connect to the memorial process, is to webcast the funeral service itself. The technology has been around for decades. With improvements in live streaming and video tech, it’s become a smoother and more pleasant experience, as well as more affordable.
A webcast can be recorded for posterity. Some funeral webcasts allow people watching from afar to communicate with those present in real-time, which for some might feel disruptive, but for others, it will be a resourceful way to get support from a wider network.
Though you might not see it a lot in cemeteries, there is gravestone tech that can provide a more personal and creative memorial. This tech has been around for about a decade and incorporates QR codes or RFID tags into a headstone.
Personal RosettaStones are one option. If you’re planning your own service, you can prepare this tech ahead of time and use your gravestone to share thoughts and memories about your life as well as messages for your friends and family. If you’re planning a service for a family member, this is a great way to leave a more nuanced and lasting memorial. Like online obituaries, this tech makes it easy for people planning their own funerals to inject their personality and connection to their loved ones into what they leave behind.
Though it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about planning funerals, technology can be useful in a number of ways and even help deepen connections between friends and family who are in mourning.