The Evolution of Obituaries and What That Means for Your Website

By: Carol Heffernan
Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Today, Families Expect More from an Obituary

How many of us can picture our parents or grandparents flipping to the obituaries section of the newspaper looking for names they recognized? 

Generations of Americans have clipped copies of notable obituaries, stashing them away to reread and pass along to their kids and grandkids. Some would tuck the obituaries into a family Bible. Others would create a scrapbook with the obituary front and center as an homage to the deceased – be it a family member, beloved teacher, or even a celebrity. Too often, though, the newspaper copies became torn and faded, were misplaced, or simply never looked at again. 

Today, printed obituaries have taken a backseat to online remembrances, as younger and older generations turn to social media to share updates on life and death announcements. These posts are often powerful, especially when accompanied by photos, videos, and comments. This development is revolutionizing the way people view and engage with your online obituaries. Here‘s How to Immediately Set Your Online Obituaries Apart.

Most people visiting a funeral home website are there for the obituaries. In fact, data shows that upwards of 85% make their way to a firm’s site for this reason alone. These visitors range from local family and friends looking for service details to far-flung relatives searching for information and a way to grieve their loss from a distance or share their condolences with the family. 

Today, many families are spread across the country or region. Gone are the days when family members all live in close proximity as was once typical. This distance coupled with the digital age means people ex pect online options when communicating after a loss. Knowing this brings a few questions to mind including:

• What do families expect and want in an online obituary?

• How can you keep visitors to your website for longer amounts of time?

• How does more time on your site = better business?

Funeral homes are always looking for ways to better serve families and keep their firm the leader in the market. Improving online obituaries is a guaranteed way to do both – and it starts with the support of family and friends.

As more and more families honor their loved ones online rather than in the newspaper, there is an increasing demand for more interactivity on the obituary, to make the obituary itself a gathering place for honoring the loved one. Create a space on your obituaries for those who have lost a loved one to contribute to more than ever. Posting condolences, memories, stories, and photos are a practical way to help a grieving family heal, as those who have lost a loved one can visit a firm’s website to read and reread these messages. Drawing my people to your website and keeping them engaged longer also build brand recognition and loyalty as visitors start to recognize your website as a trusted place to “gather” digitally. Let’s take a look at the many ways to enhance an online obituary.

Obituary Comments

Families often say they learned new information about their loved one at the funeral. These conversations typically occur at the visitation or reception and may be forgotten in the business of events. But now, they can be posted online to reread and remember. Consider adding prompts to your website to encourage people to comment.

Families will be sure to see every note, memory, and story on the obituary page and can revisit these special messages for decades to come. What a practical solution to ensure that all comments are read and remembered.

Uploaded Photos

Photo books are part of every family’s treasures cele brating births, weddings, and the everyday moments of our lives. When a family posts their own photos on the obituary page, it will inspire others to do the same. Many families already select photos to display at the funeral. Encourage them to upload photos online and ask others to do the same. We’ve found that when a few photos are uploaded by family or friends, other join in the sharing and soon the online obituary is filled with images.

Memorial Gift Details

Memorial and floral gifts bring comfort and hope, as do the heartfelt messages that accompany them. Your firm may already take note of who gave what, which is a beautiful testament to the love and support received during a difficult time. Many funeral directors also choose to upload additional flower purchases and who they are from to the obituary so families know exactly who gave what. And many funeral home websites now have the ability to post to the obituary sympathy gifts that were purchased on your website.

Photos Taken at the Funeral and Reception

When loved ones come together for a funeral it often feels like a family reunion, bringing together those who haven’t seen each other in many years. But most say that the day goes by in a blur with very little recollection of detail , including who attended, the beautiful memory tables on display, or the prepared homemade food. 

Your funeral home can provide great value in thinking ahead for the family and encouraging them to photo graph these elements and upload them to the online obituary after the service. This also presents guests with another way to contribute. Funeral homes are al ways looking for ways to help families before, during, and after the funeral – and helping build a robust online obituary is one more way to do so. Photos, condolences, memories, and service details bring a special measure of healing during a difficult time. What a gift for families – and for the professionals who serve them.

 Finally, thanks to technological advances, there’s even the possibility of a print-technology mashup with the new keepsake Tribute Book that transforms the online obituary into a book the whole family will treasure for generations to come.

Carol Heffernan has been as a professional copywriter for many years, working in the death care industry for the past five. She enjoys every day of her job as she wants to help people and knows how much hope and comfort the written word can bring to others.















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