There was a time, way back when the world was new and green (remember green?) and a joyous revolution in funerals was imminent. It was a time when scarcely a day passed without the launch of a new online memorial website. The concept ticked all the boxes, floated all the boats, captured the zeitgeist: innovation + web technology + new trends in commemoration (remember the great Baby Boomer Fallacy?) Some were in it for love, others for money. The GFG team celebrated every new arrival.
In the right hands the online memorial website is an excellent concept capable of offering much solace to the bereaved. But only great techies with their hearts in the right place can ever get the concept to work. There have been some egregious turkeys.
Our own favourite, the Titanic of the genre, was the late lamented EternalSpace, pictured above, which launched in 2009 awash with venture capital and sunk days later. It offered grievers highly monetisable “peaceful, serene online environments” where you could choose “your own tranquil landscape that could be “customized to reflect and honor an individual’s life and legacy”. You could buy “virtual tribute gifts, selecting from a diverse range of items including flowers, trees, candles, hobby and sports memorabilia, and other unique gifts that reflect the personality, interests and life of each individual.” It was truly madly deeply bonkers.
Over the years, new sites have sprung up overnight to a blare of PR-inspired publicity, then withered and perished along with all their memories becoming, in their extinction, the antithesis of everything they had aspired to be.
Startups have declined to a trickle in the last 3 years. The very few stayers have improved their functionality, refined their service and worked on their sustainability. In addition to giving bereaved people a place to go, day or night, where they can reflect on the person who has died and share memories, online memorial sites now, also, facilitate online fundraising; and they have partnered with funeral directors, offering them an own-branded memorial site, bringing a welcome element of localism to what can seem a remote and cloud-borne entity. This has enabled them to bring more people into awareness of their presence at the same time as enabling funeral directors to enhance their service by offering their clients a useful grief resource. All good. Market stable.
Then the other day we noticed that Tamworth Co-op and Midlands Co-op had signed up with HeavenAddress. Never heard of it? Nor had we. So we checked it out. Loads of funeral homes in the South Pacific; no others in the UK except for AB Walker in Reading. What’s so special? Nothing we could see. Baffled. If we missed something, tell us.
Check out the Tamworth Co-op page here.
And then do what we do, and compare it with MuchLoved’s branded site for, say, Arthur C Towner here.
Little point in checking out Midlands Co-op because, doh, HeavenAddress links it to a memorial website called RememberedForever (nope, we hadn’t either) not to be confused with RememberedForever (you’d be forgiven). The latter is a dot org, but we can’t find it at Companies House or the Charity Commission. Its ownership is a mystery. We’d love to post a screenshot of its home page so you could enjoy the misspelling of ‘remembrances’ at the top right, but its Ts and Cs threaten dire consequences: “any re-publication of the Websites or content on the Websites is strictly prohibited, and You agree that the consequences of commercial use or re-publication may be so serious and incalculable that monetary compensation may not be a sufficient or appropriate remedy.” Incalculable? Heck, what would be appropriate? Baseball bats? We offer them the words of Psalm 112: Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
Anyway, you can see the misspelling here.
Apologies for the digression. As we say, in the right hands the online memorial website is a great concept. We at the GFG have long been fans of MuchLoved because we think their heart’s in the right place and they’re impressively bright — they’re ethical and they’re savvy. They’re also a proper charity. If someone better came along, of course we’d switch allegiance just like that.
For now, however, it seems to us, they remain way, way out in front.