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The rise of the e-funeral
12   ONLINE OFFERINGS




                    The rise of
                    the e-funeral
                        REBECCA HOH investigates the growing role
                        of the internet within the funeral industry

                        O        ver 80 per cent of funeral planning
                                 now begins online in modern,
                        developed countries,” states Martin Dano,
                                                                              From nding comprehensive suppliers
                                                                           to online announcements, here are some of
                                                                           the ways the internet is changing the way
                        founder of online death and obituaries             people organise funerals, say goodbye, and
                        database Sysoon. Martin spent ve years             ultimately remember their loved ones.
                        collecting research data on customs, rituals,
                        laws on death and funerals worldwide before        Remembering
                        setting up the site in January this year.
                        “Nobody wants to spend much time talking           One current pioneer in the online memorial
                        about death, and when it arrives people            market is Lasting Tribute, owned by the
                        are now searching online for products,             Daily Mail Group. Its mission statement is
                        prices and general related issues as a fast and    to celebrate life and allows people to record
                        reliable way to get the information                a loved one’s date of birth, death and
                        they need.”                                        location, and to upload images and
                           It is not surprising that the funeral           memories. Lasting Tribute’s Matthew Bailey
                        industry and the bereaved are utilising the        says the change in what people want for their
                        internet, as it is such a huge part of our lives   loved ones after death came as a combination
                        on a day-to-day basis. But it is remarkable        of the rise of the internet and the pivotal
                        just how much the net has become involved          moment of Princess Diana’s death at the end
                        in the whole process of bereavement, as            of the 1990s.
                        well as single-handedly pushing forward the           “Many people in the industry believe
                        practices within the funeral industry.             that marked a turning point in the grieving
ONLINE OFFERINGS                         13



process,” explains Matthew. “Grief had            bereavement process. is is also an area          now decided to open up a comprehensive
previously been a very private matter             where Lasting Tribute comes into its own.        range of products to funeral directors from
but suddenly there was a need for it to           It is partnered with a number of charities       one single source.”
be public and shared. One lady said she           including Marie Curie Cancer Trust, When            Of course, the internet has many faults,
came to the site because the funeral was          You Wish Upon a Star, the British Heart          but it cannot be denied that this incredible
not enough to commemorate her mother’s            Foundation and the British Legion, and           technological invention is really opening up
life; she felt her mum was much more              it is working on linking the site up to any      a whole new world of opportunity for the
than an announcement, a ceremony and              charity so well wishers will be able to pledge   funeral profession.
one obituary. e internet provided that            immediately in connection with the online
something extra. It even allows her to ‘talk’     announcement of the death and funeral
to her in a way through the comments she          itself. ere is also a ‘dedicate a tree’ or            Information
can leave.”                                       ‘dedicate a bench’ function, as well as the           www.lastingtribute.co.uk
    Of course people can use Facebook             opportunity to plant a virtual da odil in the         www.lrtipping.co.uk
and other existing sites to create similar        name of the deceased at a cost of £5, half of         www.sysoon.com
memorials, but one major di erence o ered         which goes to Marie Curie which also plants           www.wesleymusic.co.uk
by the dedicated sites is that they mediate all   a real bulb in its da odil eld, which you can         www.whitehousefuneralservice.co.uk
uploads. “ e internet has a bad name, with        go and see.
horror stories on some online platforms such
as abusive messages or inappropriate pictures     Service
– even false announcements of a death,
which make funeral directors very nervous,”       A number of funeral directors and
says Matthew. “But on mediated sites there        companies are adding a virtual element
are teams checking through the night that         to the planning and implementation of
material is suitable and in good faith before     the service as well, with one of the biggest
it is approved to go up.”                         developments being the uploading of a video
    Matthew recently returned from                of the funeral onto their website for absent
presenting the bene ts of the site at the         family and friends to watch anywhere in
National Association of Funeral Directors         the world. Whitehouse Funeral Service in
regional meetings in Newbury, and is now          Darlington is one such company, which has
o ering an online memorial package for            launched a funeral videoing service as an
directors where Lasting Tribute creates a         optional extra to the planning process. ey
pro le of the deceased and an account for         then provide a unique password that allows
friends and family, puts up a notice of the       those unable to attend on the day to view a
funeral details and plants a tree in memory       video montage of the funeral. Wesley Music
of the deceased.                                  in Kettering, a specialised music service for
    As previously mentioned, Sysoon is a          the bereavement community, also o ers a
platform to record a loved one’s life but is      service broadcast as well as an online music
also a huge source of data that is utilised       request system where loved ones can choose
by many di erent types of user, such as           songs and create a playlist for the day, which
marketing companies in order to delete            is then sent through to their PCs.
people from their records, and for those who
have lost touch with loved ones to nd out         Supplying
if they are no longer with us. Sysoon also
o ers a service to carry out custom manual           e supply side of the funeral industry
research, where they send out a call to every     has been generally serviced by the same
cemetery in the world with a photo of the         family businesses for generations, meaning
missing person and can come back with an          that directors and the bereaved alike were
answer anywhere between three days and            restricted in terms of what was available to
three months.                                     them in that town or county. e internet
    When it comes to the funeral itself, if       has helped to break down these barriers and
the deceased was unlucky enough to have           allowed companies worldwide to increase
died without funds, the bereaved can collect      awareness in new products. Indeed, people
money through a function on the website to        planning funerals are now frequently turning
help with arranging owers and a gravestone.       to search engines such as Google to nd the
Another unique idea is a review section           products they want, and then informing the
where potential clients can nd testimonials       funeral director of their choice.
and share experiences on the quality of work         Leslie R Tipping began as a supplier to
of funeral homes, with Sysoon’s own ranking       funeral directors in 1947 in Yorkshire, and
system soon to be a feature.                      established lrtipping.co.uk in 2009, as a
                                                  collection of over 2,000 worldwide products
Giving                                            such as soft goods, co n linings and
                                                  mortuary supplies for UK funeral directors.
   e internet, and more importantly online        “ is increased choice has led to a shift
payment, has also given people another way        in the type of funeral being requested by
to pledge money to charities – something          families when arranging funerals,” con rms
that goes hand in hand with the funeral and       managing director James Tipping. “We have

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The rise of the e-funeral

  • 2. 12 ONLINE OFFERINGS The rise of the e-funeral REBECCA HOH investigates the growing role of the internet within the funeral industry O ver 80 per cent of funeral planning now begins online in modern, developed countries,” states Martin Dano, From nding comprehensive suppliers to online announcements, here are some of the ways the internet is changing the way founder of online death and obituaries people organise funerals, say goodbye, and database Sysoon. Martin spent ve years ultimately remember their loved ones. collecting research data on customs, rituals, laws on death and funerals worldwide before Remembering setting up the site in January this year. “Nobody wants to spend much time talking One current pioneer in the online memorial about death, and when it arrives people market is Lasting Tribute, owned by the are now searching online for products, Daily Mail Group. Its mission statement is prices and general related issues as a fast and to celebrate life and allows people to record reliable way to get the information a loved one’s date of birth, death and they need.” location, and to upload images and It is not surprising that the funeral memories. Lasting Tribute’s Matthew Bailey industry and the bereaved are utilising the says the change in what people want for their internet, as it is such a huge part of our lives loved ones after death came as a combination on a day-to-day basis. But it is remarkable of the rise of the internet and the pivotal just how much the net has become involved moment of Princess Diana’s death at the end in the whole process of bereavement, as of the 1990s. well as single-handedly pushing forward the “Many people in the industry believe practices within the funeral industry. that marked a turning point in the grieving
  • 3. ONLINE OFFERINGS 13 process,” explains Matthew. “Grief had bereavement process. is is also an area now decided to open up a comprehensive previously been a very private matter where Lasting Tribute comes into its own. range of products to funeral directors from but suddenly there was a need for it to It is partnered with a number of charities one single source.” be public and shared. One lady said she including Marie Curie Cancer Trust, When Of course, the internet has many faults, came to the site because the funeral was You Wish Upon a Star, the British Heart but it cannot be denied that this incredible not enough to commemorate her mother’s Foundation and the British Legion, and technological invention is really opening up life; she felt her mum was much more it is working on linking the site up to any a whole new world of opportunity for the than an announcement, a ceremony and charity so well wishers will be able to pledge funeral profession. one obituary. e internet provided that immediately in connection with the online something extra. It even allows her to ‘talk’ announcement of the death and funeral to her in a way through the comments she itself. ere is also a ‘dedicate a tree’ or Information can leave.” ‘dedicate a bench’ function, as well as the www.lastingtribute.co.uk Of course people can use Facebook opportunity to plant a virtual da odil in the www.lrtipping.co.uk and other existing sites to create similar name of the deceased at a cost of £5, half of www.sysoon.com memorials, but one major di erence o ered which goes to Marie Curie which also plants www.wesleymusic.co.uk by the dedicated sites is that they mediate all a real bulb in its da odil eld, which you can www.whitehousefuneralservice.co.uk uploads. “ e internet has a bad name, with go and see. horror stories on some online platforms such as abusive messages or inappropriate pictures Service – even false announcements of a death, which make funeral directors very nervous,” A number of funeral directors and says Matthew. “But on mediated sites there companies are adding a virtual element are teams checking through the night that to the planning and implementation of material is suitable and in good faith before the service as well, with one of the biggest it is approved to go up.” developments being the uploading of a video Matthew recently returned from of the funeral onto their website for absent presenting the bene ts of the site at the family and friends to watch anywhere in National Association of Funeral Directors the world. Whitehouse Funeral Service in regional meetings in Newbury, and is now Darlington is one such company, which has o ering an online memorial package for launched a funeral videoing service as an directors where Lasting Tribute creates a optional extra to the planning process. ey pro le of the deceased and an account for then provide a unique password that allows friends and family, puts up a notice of the those unable to attend on the day to view a funeral details and plants a tree in memory video montage of the funeral. Wesley Music of the deceased. in Kettering, a specialised music service for As previously mentioned, Sysoon is a the bereavement community, also o ers a platform to record a loved one’s life but is service broadcast as well as an online music also a huge source of data that is utilised request system where loved ones can choose by many di erent types of user, such as songs and create a playlist for the day, which marketing companies in order to delete is then sent through to their PCs. people from their records, and for those who have lost touch with loved ones to nd out Supplying if they are no longer with us. Sysoon also o ers a service to carry out custom manual e supply side of the funeral industry research, where they send out a call to every has been generally serviced by the same cemetery in the world with a photo of the family businesses for generations, meaning missing person and can come back with an that directors and the bereaved alike were answer anywhere between three days and restricted in terms of what was available to three months. them in that town or county. e internet When it comes to the funeral itself, if has helped to break down these barriers and the deceased was unlucky enough to have allowed companies worldwide to increase died without funds, the bereaved can collect awareness in new products. Indeed, people money through a function on the website to planning funerals are now frequently turning help with arranging owers and a gravestone. to search engines such as Google to nd the Another unique idea is a review section products they want, and then informing the where potential clients can nd testimonials funeral director of their choice. and share experiences on the quality of work Leslie R Tipping began as a supplier to of funeral homes, with Sysoon’s own ranking funeral directors in 1947 in Yorkshire, and system soon to be a feature. established lrtipping.co.uk in 2009, as a collection of over 2,000 worldwide products Giving such as soft goods, co n linings and mortuary supplies for UK funeral directors. e internet, and more importantly online “ is increased choice has led to a shift payment, has also given people another way in the type of funeral being requested by to pledge money to charities – something families when arranging funerals,” con rms that goes hand in hand with the funeral and managing director James Tipping. “We have