Losing a loved one can be hard, especially if that loved one dies unexpectedly.
I know about that from personal experience. Nearly 14 years ago, I lost my mother in a flash flood. She was 63 years old, and, until the night of the flood, I expected her to be with us for many more years, since her own mother was in her 90s when she died.
At the time my mother died, the internet was still very primitive. More than a decade later, it has more to offer to help people cope with such a loss.
A good example of that is the means for creating a memorial website. Recently, after gaining access to a scanner and using it to convert many cherished family photos into digital format, I decided to explore the possibility of building a website that would serve as a permanent tribute to my mother.
I quickly found a server that provided free space for that purpose and, in a matter of hours, I had constructed a site that I was pleased with. I shared it with many friends, one of whom was very close to my mother and had lost her own father recently. She told me she was glad that building the site had had such a therapeutic influence on me, and she confided that she had been thinking of doing the same thing for her father.
I told her that I recommend it to anyone who has suffered a loss. It doesn’t have to be a parent. The loved one could be a spouse, a sibling, a good friend, a co-worker, even a beloved pet.
The provider I used was easy enough, although there are others on the internet that appear to be just as easy to use. There are some that charge a fee for their services, but it isn’t necessary to spend money. Nor is it necessary to have advanced computer knowledge, just digital versions of photographs (or access to a scanner to convert them) and the willingness to devote a little time to the project.
I’ve seen some concerns expressed about the permanence of a memorial website. Given the relative youth of the technology, I guess it is necessary to accept the provider’s claims at face value, and the provider I chose states, in its FAQ, that tributes are “created to last forever.”
Additional benefits that I found with my provider is that it allows others to contribute their own photographs and sign the guestbook, and, although I cannot reach customer service by telephone, the provider states that questions and suggestions can be submitted through a feedback source.
The provider I used is called “Perfect Tribute,” and all you have to do to get started is answer a few basic questions, like whether the loved one was a person or a pet and what that loved one’s name was.
Some of these website hosts appear to be free, but look closely to see if they’re actually offering “free trials” and want you to provide credit card information – for billing purposes after the free trial ends. And others require a “one-time fee” to defray costs.
If you don’t mind paying for this service, that opens up your prospects considerably. But if you want to find a host that charges nothing for the webspace, you may have to look a little harder.
From what I’ve been able to find, truly free website hosts include:
- “SynthaSite,” which promises “100% free” subdomain hosting.
- “Gone Too Soon” says it is run by a nonprofit organization, where visitors can write tributes, arrange for a “virtual gift” and light a candle.
- “Imorial” seems to offer a little of everything. In addition to telling the story of the loved one’s life, pictures can be added, a “candle” can be lit, and videos can be posted. It’s also possible, the site says, to ” find others who are dealing with grief” and “help others who are coming to terms” with a loss. And it’s all free.
- “Remembered By Us” is a little different from the others. Visitors can look at sample sites, which seem to be mostly text, to see if it will meet their needs. Guests can “light a candle,” sign their names and leave messages.
More than anything else, a memorial website gives people a place to remember someone who was special to them and provides an emotional outlet for those who are struggling with their grief – even if it has been 14 years since the loved one died.
And, as I told my friend, I wanted something more than a gravestone to honor my mother’s memory.
Gone Too Soon
Remembered By Us