Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about online memorials? My uncle recently passed away, and some of the family thought it would be neat to create an online memorial to pay tribute to him, and accommodate the many family and friends who are scattered around the country who couldn't attend his funeral.
It's a great idea! Online memorials have become increasingly popular over the past decade, as millions of people have created them for their departed loved ones as a way to recognize and remember them.
An online memorial is a website created for a deceased person that provides a central location where their family and friends can visit to share stories, fond memories, photographs, comfort one another and grieve. The memorial can remain online for life (or a specific period of time) allowing people to visit and contribute any time in the privacy of their own space.
Online memorials started popping up on the Internet in the late 1990s, but were created primarily for people who were well known. But now, these sites are for anyone who wants to pay tribute to their departed family member or friend, and ensure they will be remembered.
Content typically posted on an online memorial includes a biography, pictures, stories from family and friends, timelines of key events in their life, along with favorite music and even videos.
Another common feature is the acceptance of thoughts or candles offered by visitors to the site who want to send their condolences and support to the grieving party.
An online memorial can also direct visitors to the departed person's favorite charity or cause to make a donation, as an alternative to sending funeral flowers.
How to Make One
To make an online memorial, you can either create an independent website, or use an established memorial site, which is what most people choose to do. Memorial websites are very easy to create and personalize, and can be done in less than 30 minutes.
There are literally dozens of these types of sites on the Internet today. To locate them, do an online search for "Online Memorial Websites." In the meantime, here are a few good sites to check into.
The biggest and most established site in the industry is Legacy.com, which also publishes about 75 percent of the obituaries in North America each year through its newspaper affiliations. Creating an online memorial through this site (see memorialwebsites.legacy.com) will run you $49 for the first year, plus an annual $19 sponsorship fee to keep it visible.
Some other popular sites to check out are ForeverMissed.com, which offers a free barebones option, along with a premium plan that runs $35 per year or $75 for life; and iLasting.com, which runs $49 per year or $99 for permanent display.
If you're on a tight budget consider LifeStory.com, which is completely free to use, but requires you to log in through Facebook to get to it. And iMorial.com, which is free if you allow ads to be posted on your uncle's page, or it costs $50 without ads.
Or, if your uncle used Facebook, you can also turn his profile into a memorial for free when you show proof of death. Once his page is memorialized, his sensitive information will be removed and his birthday notifications will stop, but (depending on his privacy settings) it still enables family and friends to post memories and condolences. In addition, you can also request a Look Back video, which is a short video created by Facebook highlighting your uncle's pictures and most liked status messages.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.