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June 24, 2019 Beyond The Dash

Do Online Memorials Need to Be Maintained?

Make a loved one's obituary a collaborative testament to a life well lived

Do Online Memorials Need to Be Maintained?
Permanent memorials, like gravestones, need to be tended. With life stories moving online, digital obituaries also need maintenance from time to time. (Getty Images)

As the world of publishing continues to go digital, more families are keeping their loved one's life stories online. While there is still value in publishing a life story in print, these notices have their limitations. Typically, a print obit only runs in the paper once, leaving little room for error. And, because most printed newspapers are location-specific, loved ones who live outside of the circulation zone may not have access to the story once it is published.


Online obituaries can live online forever. But like any form of permanent memorialization, online obituaries may need maintenance from time to time.


The benefits of an online memorial


There are many benefits of choosing a digital obituary:



  • An online obituary can stay online forever as a testament to the life and character of your loved one.

  • Digital stories often come with a guestbook for family and friends to share memories.

  • These stories can be easily shared with loved ones all over the world, and across social media as well.

  • Most online stories can be edited by whomever manages them.

  • Online stories can also act as virtual scrapbooks for photos, videos and other relevant links.


However, these perks may also with come some maintenance needs. Just as a grave needs physical maintenance, an online obituary needs to be revisited now and again in order to ensure it is up to date.


Here are some maintenance considerations to make if you manage a loved one's online story:


1. Does the obituary or guestbook expire?


Although online obituaries can last online forever, that doesn't mean that yours automatically will. Some obituary companies offer a free online obituary for a limited time, after which you must pay to extend its life online. Others offer the obituary story forever, but charge to open or extend the guestbook.


If it is important to your family that this story remain visible to all online, it's worth checking the individual publication's policy and setting a reminder for the extension date if there is one.


2. Does the website offer content moderation for guestbook posts?


One of the most meaningful aspects of a digital obituary is the guestbook. Family and friends from all over the world can offer condolences, share memories and post images of the deceased person. This can come with its own set of complications if the content being submitted to the guestbook isn't moderated.


Unfortunately, some obituaries get angry messages, spam and inappropriate content posted to them by disgruntled family members or other visitors to the story. Check with the publication to find out if content is moderated, or if you have to personally manage the guestbook yourself. Either way, it is a good idea to revisit your loved one's online story from time to time to read new messages and ensure everything is running smoothly.


3. Are there details missing from the story?


Most people write an obituary when a loved one has recently died. But in the first weeks and months following a loss, people in mourning aren't themselves. Forgetfulness, lack of motivation and exhaustion might mean some tasks don't get done, or done well. If you feel a lack of connection with the story that has been crafted for your loved one, it's never too late to spruce it up.


You might also be learning more and more interesting stories about your loved one's life in the aftermath of their death. Funerals and other family gatherings are wonderful times to share memories. If there is new information that belongs in the life story, don't hesitate to go back and enhance the obituary.


4. Can this story be the centralized place for visiting your loved one's story?


For some families, it's a grave. For others, the family home. But if a digital memorial is right for you and your family, it can be the centralized location for visiting and remembering your loved one. Digital stories are more accessible to those who live far away or travel. An online obituary can also be accessed on any computer, tablet or mobile phone—so if you're missing your loved one and want to read their story and condolence messages now, it is always available to you and yours.


If a digital obituary makes the most sense as a place to remember your loved one, share it with all who mourn the loss. Encourage family and friends to engage with the guestbook, add photos and bring the story of a wonderful person to life.


Moving on in grief with the memory of a special person


Maintaining a digital obituary can help keep you connected with your loved one and their life story. Many days you may not want to be reminded of the tragedy that has occurred. But, for the days that you crave connection with one who has passed, a well maintained digital obituary is there for you when you need it.


Beyond the Dash digital obituaries


You get to choose the publication that will house and protect your loved one's story for generations to come. If you are considering placing an obituary on Beyond the Dash, keep in mind that:



  • All stories are vetted for appropriateness, accuracy and detail.

  • All guestbook messages are reviewed by content moderators before being posted online.

  • Beyond the Dash stories and their guestbooks stay online forever.

  • Digital stories on Beyond the Dash are free to publish.

  • After creating a story, you have the option of publishing the obituary in any of over 6,000 newspapers across North America (subject to the individual newspaper's rates and a modest service fee).


Ready to get started? Create an obituary on Beyond the Dash today.


Try Free Obituary Template

Having trouble writing an obituary? Try our free interactive obituary template.

Fill in some information about your loved one, and we'll generate some text that you can use as a starting point for your online memorial.

Try now
Your loved one had a remarkable life. Tell their story, and we’ll publish it online for free.

After creating an online memorial, you can also publish in print in any of over 6,000 newspapers across North America.

Get started for free
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