When you go to a memorial, you expect to be reminded of things you already knew about the departed. But often you hear amazing new stories and gain unexpected insights. As more and more people tell stories, you start to see your loved one in new ways.
Digital memorials will eventually revolutionize the way we grieve, in part by making it easier to capture this kind of experience. To use the well-worn lingo of the digital age, we can now “crowdsource” memory and grieving.
On LifePosts, for instance, one can enlist friends and family to help you create more detailed and complete online memorials. College friends can post the pictures from freshman year that the widow might never have seen; work friends can post video from the retirement party that the kids missed; the kids can post their birthday cards for dad. Above all, they can post stories and memories in narrative and visual form.
This can help:
Relieve the burden – No longer does a single person have to take on the responsibility of capturing the essence of a much-loved person, a nearly impossible task. She can now call upon others to offer their own stories and perspectives. She can be the final arbiter, but now has benefit of hours of help from others.
Give friends a way to help – Friends often feel powerless after a death. “What can I do to help?” Usually the answer is nothing. Often a friend will send flowers or give to charity but that feels inadequate. Now one can give a truly meaningful gift – the gift of stories and images and videos.
Create a full picture – A crowd-sourced memorial is pointillistic. Instead of one person narrating a life, you get bits of information from many different sources. In isolation, they might have limited meaning but together, they form a rich, multifaceted picture – a truer portrait of the deceased than any one person could create alone.
In the history of the Internet, there have been many moments when experts over-estimated the power of “crowds.” At LifePosts, we still believe that a Creator or set of Creators should have final say over a memorial. But we also believe that the ability to easily enlist friends and family in the biography-creation process will help with grieving and create a more vivid portrait for future generations.