July 5, 2018


When we think of the last words we would want to describe our loved one’s life or our own life story, the focus is to be on celebrating piety and good character. But with the turn of the new century, life stories are being described by verbs and adjectives as the main highlight of obituaries. The way we remember is constantly evolving and the language we use is changing.

Technology has directly impacted the memorialization of a person’s life. Obituaries have developed into capturing the whole story from all sources with intimate details, versus just a formulated account of connections with family members and information of services to come. This shift is mainly seen by people sharing obituaries on their social profiles, having comment sections online and stories going viral for good or bad reasons. Not only that, but stories have become more meaningful, fun and interesting to read as family and friends try to capture the essence of the person within the words. Hundreds of people might read an obituary of a person they have never met before and be inspired.


Newspaper Media Outlets

Publishing obituaries in newspapers was and is still the main way for funeral directors and families to inform others about the person that has passed and also encourage better attendance to the funeral service and celebration. This also involves sharing the details to the friends and family in the place of birth but also providing the information to others in the place of death. Using newspaper media outlets also makes sure to cover everyone, especially if their contact information is not easily available.

Newspapers also give prominence to local stories of families that have made an impact to their community. The newspaper staff take time to speak to the family and learn deeper details to share and formulate a local story to inspire readers. These become trusted sources of knowing good and bad stories in communities and remembering the legacies passed on, which get built upon by others. For newspapers, obituaries are not just announcing the death of someone but also commemorating the life lived. People researching their family’s genealogy — now a billion-dollar industry — depend on newspaper obituaries to discover important pieces of family history.

As online trends keep changing, publishing obituaries online now have basic requirements from families and funeral homes. This opens up ways for newspapers to improve their offerings and work with other technology companies to improve their processes or build their own solution. Customers want mobile-responsive memorial pages that allow for family and friends to add the event to their calendar, RSVP for the service, guestbooks and messaging, genealogy and life timeline options, seamless social media sharing, and even document storage for wills and death certificates. But it seems that providing ad-free spaces for families to share and inspire their community is now the main value for newspaper to focus on while providing other services and features.

Funeral Home Websites

The job of funeral directors and homes is to serve their community. Usually they get to meet families and friends in their worst time in life. Not only that, but usually they also know the family and their community very well. They are active in the leadership or attend and organize many events that also prepare them to know what actions to take around the celebration of life.

When it comes to writing an obituary, funeral directors have also taken on that role for families and ensuring it gets published and announced online and in print in a timely manner. Newspapers and funeral homes work together to make sure the family’s wishes are met. But as budgets are a factor in the decision, families will either spend more on the funeral service and just make a small announcement online and in print or choose a basic cremation, to spend a larger sum on having a well thought out and prepared obituary in print and online.

Although it may seem that funeral homes are looking for ways to build their brand online, making sure the obituary is noted through the funeral home helps make the confirmation process easier. It also provides a way for family members to send flowers, donations or condolence messages to the funeral director to give to the family directly. Funeral homes help manage everything in between the service for families, and this includes handling the online obituary.

Online Memorial Sites

Although the obituaries section is still misunderstood, there is a growth of wanting to explore our family history. The fear of talking about death is now shifted to learning more about where we have come from and how we connect with the world around us. Obituaries are becoming stories to share and lives worth writing about.

Online memorial sites such as Legacy, Tributes, Beyond the Dash and even Facebook have come into this space, where family stories and legacies help form a connection and community online. We are all looking for inspiring stories all around us. Many TV shows, such as Ellen and Good Morning America are mainly focused on bringing to light how simple acts of kindness, family stories of love make the world a better place and inspire us to pay it forward.

No matter if someone has impacted a whole community or just their own immediate family, there is something to say about their life. Online memorial sites help to provide a personal touch when sharing family stories. The design usually focuses on the person’s image and personality with their family and friends adding more personal memories. The main focus being celebrating the life lived together, put online memorial sites in a position to serve families and guide them to choose what they best way to present their loss and remember with comfort and delight.

Perhaps obituaries should be kept private or maybe sharing them online for everyone to read and be inspired by is actually the best we can do to honor the deceased. There is no one right way to process grief and there is definitely not one and only way to share a life story. Anyone placing an obituary should think through all the options available for announcing the news and remember that obituaries preserve the memory of the deceased that anyone can come back for encouragement and inspiration.