When a family member dies, it can be one of the most difficult times a person can go through. I found out first hand, just how tough it is when my father passed away at the end of last month. Everyone has their own way of grieving, their own way of finding comfort when you loose someone close to you such as a husband, a father or a child.
With the advancements in technology and communication, each and every passing day provides us with new ways to connect with others who can share share of grief, or help us deal with it in ways we never had before. As painful as it can be, even dealing with death, a person can find help and kind voices online in the form of social communities.
When dealing with all the details of taking care of my father's service and helping my mom get through all this, I was struck by something, something so simple, yet I found it quite comforting. I'm not the type to read the obituaries first when I go to the online paper, I always sort of chuckled when people who are my parents' age habitually went to read the obituaries first. But here I was finding comfort in an online obituary for my father, and in the notes of love, comfort and respect that were left for my mother, my sister and I. Family, friends from very far away, and friends of ours who never even met my father but knew my sister or me left beautiful words of comfort.
This weekend reflecting on this got me curious what else was there out there. I knew about Respectance, I wrote up a piece about it about a year ago, but was there more? I wanted to find out what else there was and did a little digging. From online memorials, to communities that help members deal with death, there's quite a lot out there.
Online Memorial Sites:
Legacy mainly provides the online obituary systems to local newspapers. This is what the local paper uses that printed my father's obitiuary. Legacy also offers on it's own site a place for individuals to create memorial websites, leave messages of comfort, and to connect with others in their community to deal with the grief that comes when someone dies.
As a member of Respectance, you can contribute to "memorials" that are already existing. They seemed to have changed things - their focus a year ago was heavily on celebrities, Steve Irwin was prominently placed there last year, but now it's highly focused around Respectance members and their memorial pages.
Virtual Memorials has become a place where thousands of lives are celebrated, documented and shared. It has become a place that aims to provide comfort during the difficult times of grief. They've been around quite a while, but not as "community" focused as Respectance is. Members can build online memorials for loved ones who have passed on.
Like those listed above, Memory-Of is an online memorial site. This site also has forums for members to discuss their dealings with death and grief. Along with a forum, the site offers a "Library" of suggested readings, as well as a way for people to buy gifts of thought and comfort for those grieving and dealing with the death of a loved one.
For those who consider them by faith, Christians, this online memorial site is also a social community like Respectance. People can "friend" a memorial along with leaving messages of condolence. This community also allows the people who creat the memories to keep sort of a "journal" as well.
This site is mostly for online commemoration of lost loved ones. Memorials include adding photos, video, audio and life stories. The site itself also has a blog which highlights ways of dealing with death, and things to prepare for. One nice thing about this site, the owners donate 10% of their income from the site to palliative and hospice care.
If you think online memorials are limited to just people, think again. People also memorialize their pets online, too. Althought not quite as "social" as the people memorial online sites, most of these sites allow the owners of their departed pets to choose their own templates, sign guestbooks, add photos and information about the animal. Some of these online pet memorial sites also have forums, which does add one more "social aspect".
- I Loved My Pet
- Online Pet Memorials by Youns
- Immortal Pets
- Critter.com (run by Virtual-Memorials.com)
Thank you, to everyone who sent emails, cards and the beautiful thoughts to my family and myself. You all truly touched my heart and helped me get through one of the toughest times I've had to deal with.