As anyone who's lost a loved one knows, the process of dealing with a death is grueling - on both a practical and an emotional level. That's nothing new. But with the rise of Internet technologies, some of the processes and practices we've developed around death and dying may be changing. As daily newspaper readership dwindles, for example, what will become of the obituary? As more of us record and share our lives via social networking sites, what will become of our online profiles when we die?
That was the subject of a recent story in The New York Times Magazine, "Cyberspace When You're Dead," that examined digital estate planning, if you will - the steps that people are starting to take in order to secure their online assets. There are books and websites and a whole range of new services and companies popping up that aim to help with the planning.
But that planning only addresses part of your digital afterlife: your arrangements for your data and assets. The best estate planning in the world does very little to help with grief or commemoration of those that survive you.
A Permanent Space to Remember Loved Ones: 1000Memories
It's estimated that between 1.78 million and 3 million Facebook users will pass away this year, and while the company has begun to establish policies around what to do when a user dies, neither of these platforms feel like really the right place to preserve and honor the memory of a loved one.
And that was part of the impetus for the formation of 1000Memories, a website where friends and family can come together to remember someone who has passed. 1000Memories aims "to create a place that visitors can gather and remember the lives of the people they love most; a place where visitors know that their loved ones will be treated with respect and where their memory will be maintained forever."
1000Memories allows users to create a customizable homepage and invite friends and family to share stories, upload photos, and sign a guestbook. The site is free (unlike the exorbitant fees some newspapers charge to print an obituary). You can also start a project in someone's honor via the site and gather donations to a charitable cause to be made in their name.
The three founders of 1000Memories all lost loved ones themselves. And while this might have helped them identify the need for a service like this, arguably it also gave them keen insight on how to create an experience for users that is deeply respectful.
As there are so many horrific processes one has to go through under these circumstances, it is crucial that setting up a memorial site not be one of them. 1000Memories has created a site that makes it easy - during one of the most difficult times - to remember our departed loved ones.