Oh boy! We’re seven months into twenty-twenty, five months into Corona lockdown, and it definitely feels like we’re stuck in 2017’s classic “and they don’t stop coming” meme.
However, if one positive can be extracted from the Coronavirus pandemic, I would say that it has undoubtedly put a renewed focus on the death-positivity movement and, more broadly, the concept of a “good” death.
I have always been a believer that proper preparation prevents poor performance. Therefore, a good death, for me, is one that is planned for. Which, obviously, even in the best of times is not the easiest task. The multitude of documents required to formulate a comprehensive end-of-life plan is pretty overwhelming. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know by now that there are medical directives, power of attorney for financial accounts, wills, trusts, and don’t forget instructions for your pets, or kids, or that sad herb garden on the terrace!
Luckily, the internet is a seemly endless sea of somewhat dubious solutions to almost any problem. Double lucky, out of all the options available – some great, some (a lot) garbage – there are actually a handful of very useful resources that shockingly do not require a monthly subscription.
TL;DR. I’ve cherry-picked the best FREE platforms currently in the deathcare space so you don’t have to!
Just a quick note, I’m not affiliated with any of these companies. Like Marge Simpson says, I just think they’re neat! And I think more people to use them. Enjoy! 🙂
LastPass: Consistently reviewed as one of the top password managers out there by PrivacyPro, TechRadar, PCMag, and others, LastPass is a must for anyone looking to create a secure, central location for their account logins and other personal information. Unlike other similar sites that hide essential features behind a premium subscription wall, LastPass’ free version is essentially a scaled-back paid account, which is rare and awesome, so long as you don’t mind going without the little things. For example, instead of the ability for unlimited sharing with other LastPass users, you are limited to sharing with just one other account. Which is fine, because I don’t know any adult with more than two actual close friends.
Additionally, while the premium account has specific categories for recording practical data like online banking, utilities, and insurance info, the same functionality can be duplicated in the “Notes” area on the free account.
For more suggestions on free, trustworthy places to store your passwords, important documents, and end-of-life plans, please see our post: 5 Sites for Secure Record Storage.
Legacy and Remembrance:
Written word, whether digital or printed has always carried a certain gravitas, especially when it is in dedication to the dead. Indeed, even in these modern times a published death notice still remains the primary method of announcing a passing to distant family, secondary friend groups, colleagues, and acquaintances. So, understandably, they are a huge deal for families and often come with a huger (more huge?) price tag.
Here in New York City, an average obituary can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand, depending on factors like whether you are aiming to run the notice for multiple days and if you want local or national distribution.
On the plus side, any funeral home you work with will put an obituary and a photo on their site for free, as well as links to any charities or foundations that were important to the deceased. It helps their SEO rankings, and, in a rare instance of capitalism working in your favor, the information is then disseminated by obituary aggregators (yes, they exist). The downside is that funeral home websites, newspapers, and aggregate sites, like Legacy.com, will naturally delete these posts over time (generally six months to a year). So, what options are available for those who are seeking a lasting tribute?
Let me tell you about InMemori…
InMemori: Founded in 2016, InMemori is a French company that advertises itself as “a free service that helps you share the funeral information with your close ones and receive condolences, memories and pictures.” This sounds pretty standard, but I love InMemori for many reasons.
- First, the page will exist indefinitely, or until it is deleted by the admin (presumably you).
- Second, you get all the bells and whistles: charity donation links, digital guest book, unlimited photos, memories, and dedications. InMemori also has a lovely feature that allows you to order a book of all those items posted to your loved one’s page. What more could you want?!
- Third, and this is just an aesthetics thing, so take it or leave it, but the clean, minimalist layout is very appealing. It might seem simplistic to some, but funeral home websites often have hard-coded calls to action, which cannot be removed from the page. Without all the noise of point-of-purchase advertisements, mourners aren’t distracted from the purpose of the page: honoring a life lived.
NOTE: There are apps that exist specifically for generating obituaries (MyObits, The Obituary App, etc) and locating those who have passed. Unfortunately, the universes of these apps exist within a vacuum, and while they do crawl external data, aggregation sites do not reciprocate, which limits the viewership to app subscribers and whoever is within the social sphere of the author’s Facebook and/or email contact list, should they choose to share. For this, and other reasons, I cannot recommend them.
All-in-One Funeral Planning Platform:
CAKE: A Boston-based startup focused on end-of-life planning and advance care directives, CAKE is, as its name suggests, the most streamlined platform for helping users discover, document, and share their end-of-life preferences. Simply answer a series of yes-no questions to establish your baseline in several key deathcare areas, and then fill in the blanks. This information can then be used to generate estate planning documents within the platform, or you can upload external documents on to their HIPPA-compliant cloud to be shared with your loved ones.
It’s a piece of cake, get it?
Jokes aside, this platform is fucking incredible. I use it, and so should you! Possibly the most exciting thing about CAKE is that it is a great icebreaker for the difficult conversations we all should be having, but maybe aren’t sure where to start. Completing your profile to share with others feels a little naughty, slightly indulgent, and, weirdly, kind of fun? Sort of like eating cake! I would compare the process to taking an early 2000’s Cosmo quiz on your ideal guy and laughing about the answers with your aggressively sapphic friend group. 10/10 – sign up today!