How Will They Remember You? A Plaque Under A Tree or As A Digital Clone?
The Art of Memorialising - Edition #10 - April, 2022
What can you do to stay informed about digital immortality, digital legacy, digital life curation, and all things #Deathtech?
Being ahead in this changing marketplace and cultural transformation could help you spot trends and find opportunities to promote and grow your end-of-life or funeral business.
Welcome to The Art of Memorialising - an audio newsletter by Peter Billingham from Death Goes Digital and Memorable Words Eulogy Writing services.
The Art of Memorialising curates news on digital immortality, digital legacy, digital life curation and all things #Deathtech.
Thanks for being here.
Memorable Words Eulogy Writing Services is sponsoring this month’s edition.
Memorable Words eulogy writing services take thoughts and precious memories of your loved one, and then craft them into unique and individual eulogy story celebrating and honouring their life.
What Will You Find In This Issue?
Two examples of the funeral industry seeing and taking opportunities to add digital legacy planning packages to funerals as an additional up sale point.
Why digital legacy planning is critical and the heartbreaking challenges families face dealing with a loved one’s digital estate without it. This is why the industry is going to grow exponentially in the future?
Deep questions about the ‘who’ we might become online long after we have died.
How Will They Remember You? A Plaque Under A Tree or As A Digital Clone?
The blossom on the large cherry tree overlooking the pond in my local park is magnificent this year. An explosive mass of pink petals, bursting with a promise - Spring is finally here. The blossom display is brief, lasts a couple of weeks at most, less if the wind and the rain rip the precious blooms from the branches.
At the foot of this tree, there is a simple square brass plaque. I see it every day when I walk in the park with my dog. It is always there. I don’t believe it will ever it disappear.
Sometimes I stand under the cherry tree and remember my friend, pausing a while when the branches are heavy with pink flowers.
‘For Shelagh - who loved this park to walk her dog remembered by her dog walking friends.’ Says the words on the plaque.
Shelagh had a cheeky, raucous laugh. Someone once wrote, ‘Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing.’ If that’s so, Shelagh’s soul must have been a bit like Ginger Rogers. She was slight in stature and wise in nature. A quip here, a joke there, and a poignant reflection occasionally. I enjoyed walking with her and the regular 8:30 a.m. dog walking crew. You could have set your clocks by us.
Shelagh began to limp. It didn’t go away. The diagnosis was brutal. The cancer in her spine was terminal.
Brave as could be, with six months’ life expectancy, she had a living funeral. ‘I want to hear all the lovely things you are going to say about me!’ She declared. And we did. Shelagh passed away only a couple of days after the most memorable of nights of celebrating her life. I’ll never forget her dancing in a wheelchair with her husband that night.
A few weeks after she had passed away, with the other dog walking friends, we all stood around a large hole, ready to plant a small cherry tree in the park. It was in a beautiful spot overlooking the pond.
At the side was a large mound of earth. At the call of some unseen, unheard, but direct command, starting with Shelagh’s black Labrador, the dogs ceremoniously cocked a leg or squatted on the earth, leaving the sort of tribute only a dog can leave in that moment! I said a few words to remember our friend Shelagh.
Each spring, looking up in the beautiful blossom on her tree, I remember one brave woman.
As part of researching a new book, I’m asking what makes a life memorable? Really, what can we do to live a memorable life? Then, how should we remember a life? Would you prefer a digital clone, a ‘avatar’ of you immortal online, or how about a brass plaque in the park?
I’ve spent probably more hours online than in the park walking my dog for sure. But I’m thinking a brass plaque would be my choice.
When the day comes, and they remember your life, what’s your choice?
Please write and let me know what you think make a life memorable? And - how would you want your life to be remembered? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Heard of a startup in digital life curation or #Deathtech?
Please let me know. Email email@example.com
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Memorable Words Eulogy Writing Services
The heartbreaking sadness many families faced losing a loved one through COVID, in lockdown, and being unable to attend their funeral through national restrictions or the location of the funeral. It was not the way many people needed or wanted to say farewell to a loved one.
As a eulogy writer, I’m finding several families now are asking me to write eulogies for memorial services. The funeral may have taken place in 2020 or 2021. But now, by the side of a lake, in a favourite wood, even in a back garden, families are gathering to remember loved ones. Having a bespoke eulogy written to celebrate that life helps to read out on that day.
Can I help someone you know plan a eulogy for a memorial service? I offer three eulogy writing packages, starting at £147.
Full Disclosure - Memorable Words is my business. Apart from editing this newsletter and website, I write and deliver eulogies for families across the world.
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5 meaty bites of news for YOU to stay ahead of the conversation on Digital Legacy, Digital Life Curation & all things #Deathtech.
1 - Will Funeral Directors and Funeral Businesses Make Extra Income From Selling Digital Legacy Packages Now? EverArk believes they can.
Launched at the recent The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) Convention & Expo, EverArk is a supplier of cemetery management software. Reading the press release (via PR Newswire), the software has many distinct features, but it was the addition of Digital Legacy Packages (via an app) to promote sales, which was interesting. EverArk has a single and family package that cemeteries can upsell to customers and earn money on each sale. The minimum price is $299 and $499, respectively. “No other cemetery management software offers a digital product that allows a cemetery to sell and earn money,” EverArk CEO Greg Marmulak said in the press release. Could this be a trend and business opportunity for other aspects of the funeral industry in the future?
It appears so - read on!
2 - How Does Partnering With A Digital Legacy Provider Offer Practical Help For Families and Profits For Funeral Businesses?
Taking the step to partner with GoodTrust, Darling and Fischer, a funeral home in California is now offering the services of a Digital Executor via GoodTrust. (via Yahoo Finance) “We are excited to be partnering with GoodTrust and offer all of our at-need families the opportunity to secure their loved one’s digital legacy forever and give them peace of mind,” said Nicholas J. Welzenbach, Managing Partner at Darling & Fischer. It seems as if GoodTrust is leading the way in these partnering relationships. Another funeral technology software company, eFuneral, announced a similar launch and partnership. (via PR Newswire) I wonder who might take a similar lead in the UK?
3 - So, Just How Complex Is The Reality of Dealing With A Digital Estate?
Catherine Mayer understands how hard it can be to deal with a loved one’s digital assets. When her husband, Andy Gill, guitarist from the band Gang Of Four, died in 2020, his death trended on Twitter. Getting hold of his digital assets and accounts has been an uphill battle. She speaks about her experiences and what she’s learned from them on a fascinating panel discussion podcast. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales - (ICAEW) - podcast discussed ‘Death and digital assets.’ Truly insightful panel discussion highlighting the genuine issues families face dealing with the online accounts of a deceased relative or loved one. You can read the transcript here.
4 - Will Digital Clones Become The Epitome of Our Life as a Work of Art?
From an academic viewpoint, Professor of Social Epistemology, Steve Fuller from Warwick University, asks if the self-archiving of our lives online is driven by some desire to leave a legacy of followers while alive and possibly dead? Will we design and create a masterpiece of our digital self online, different from the reality of who we are? That happens now. How much of the filtered, touched up images online are the truth self? The growth of AI powered software to create a digital twin or digital avatar brings opportunities and moral questions we have not had to ask before. Fuller suggests it is useful to think of the digital avatar as a being who starts as a clone of the biological human, but then over time develops its own digitally based experiences so that it effectively becomes a different being. Really? Now that presents all kinds of deep questions about ‘who really is the digital avatar?’ Will the real digital clone online stand up?
Fuller, Steve. 2022. “Digital Clones as the Epitome of Life as a Work of Art.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective
5 - Would You Like To Contribute Your Input Into The Digital Death Survey 2022?
The purpose of the Digital Death Survey is to better understand how the internet and technology are changing societies’ attitudes and needs around death, care planning and bereavement. This leading survey was started in 2014 by the Digital Legacy Association (UK). In recent years, the research has received further support from Dr. Carla Sofka of Siena College (USA). A secondary purpose of the digital death survey is to educate participants about this emerging area. Data will be aggregated and made available for free on the Digital Legacy Association’s website, explained at professional conferences and/or workshops, and potentially published in journal articles or books. (Link open until May 1st)
After watching Jensen Haung, the CEO of NVIDIA, keynote address, Rob Enderle poses some interesting questions about the development of digital immortality with AI avatars. It’s not that far off our digital avatar could still keep working long after we have died! Who gets the salary then?
Digital Devices (Access for Next of Kin) Bill - UK - 2nd Reading Took Place - A second reading will happen 6th May 2022.
Who do you know who would find this information interesting?
Please, can you forward the email to them? I’d be very grateful.
Let’s start a conversation - firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next month, keep safe, and keep going.