Dear Savvy Senior: My mother died last week, and because of COVID we didn’t have a funeral. I would like to create some type of online memorial for her so family and friends can express their condolences and share their stories. What can you tell me about making an online memorial for my mom? — Grieving Daughter
Dear Grieving: I’m very sorry for your loss. Creating an online memorial for your mom is a great idea and one that’s become increasingly popular in the age of COVID-19. Thousands of families have created them for their departed loved ones, especially those who didn’t have a proper funeral because of the pandemic. Here’s what you should know.
What is an online memorial?
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 and stories from family and friends, timelines of key events in their life, along with favorite music and even videos.
Another common feature is an online guest book where visitors sign their names and write tributes to the departed. Online memorials can also direct visitors to the departed person’s favorite charity or cause to make a donation, as an alternative to sending funeral flowers.
Some online memorial sites today even offer virtual funeral/event capabilities as a replacement for an in-person funeral. And they’ll help you get the word out by offering invitations and RSVP tracking.
Top online memorials
There are a wide variety of websites available that make it easier than ever to create a thoughtful, personalized profile for your mom to celebrate and honor her life, and the process of creating it can be very satisfying.
You also need to know that some online memorial sites are completely free to use, while others offer a paid version that provides additional features.
Some of the best sites that offer both free and paid options are MyKeeper.com (free or $75) and iLasting.com (free or $49 a year or $99 for a lifetime membership).
Or, if you’re interested in one that’s completely free to use, some top options are GatheringUs.com (they do charge for virtual events), Memories.net, InMemori.com and WeRemember.com.
If your mom used Facebook, you can also turn her profile into a memorialized account for free when you show proof of death. This option will let your mom’s family and friends share stories, photos or memories to celebrate her life, with the word “Remembering” shown next to her name.
Once her account is memorialized, the content she shared is still visible on Facebook to the audience it was originally shared with; however, her profile will not show up in public spaces such as people she might know, ads or birthday reminders.
In addition, you can also request a “Look Back” video, which is a short video created by Facebook highlighting your mom’s pictures and most-liked status messages.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.