Grieving online: social grief goes mainstream

With significant adoption of social networks by baby boomers and with gene x reaching middle age, we now have a broad population that is open to using the Internet as a way to grieve and remember  loved ones after death. Entrepreneurs have seen this opportunity and as a result we have seen explosive growth in the online memorials industry.

In addition to the 17 online memorial sites that we currently have on our list of digital legacy services, we are now adding ForeverMissed, Solium, People 2 Remember, StayaliveMemory-Of.com, and  Planned Departure.

We’ve seen Facebook being used as a social grieving space for several years already. Profiles of the deceased are routinely transformed into online memorials. But the memorialization process locks the profile and disables the ability to add new “friends.” As a result we’ve seen the creation of memorial “pages” on Facebook. A simple search for “R.I.P” on Facebook shows that people are creating these pages so anyone can participate.

Dedicated online memorial websites go a step further than Facebook. They create a place whose declared purpose is to connect with others and grieve socially. This eliminates the confusion that people experience when encountering death in a vibrantly social place like Facebook.

It is uncertain how sustainable all this growth is. What we are probably seeing is an initial growth explosion of a new industry. My guess is that we’ll see consolidation and drop off of companies in the coming years. But for the time being, the online memorial rush is in full swing.

Photo by Herry Lawford

    About John Romano

    John is an award-winning interaction designer and an ardent cultural observer. His fascination: the mass adoption of digital communication tools and the change they are having on the way we interact with each other and the way we view ourselves. When he isn't contemplating on how to achieve immortality, he is either designing interactive projects at Capstrat in Raleigh, building stuff in the garage with his boy, or wandering off the beaten path on a motorcycle. Contact him at .

    One Response to Grieving online: social grief goes mainstream

    1. Kalib October 25, 2011 at 12:16 am #

      I used to find it awkward, people grieving on social networks. While support in the grieving process is necessary, social networks for the sole purpose of that seems strange still.

      Kalib Schulz

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