No matter who you are or how you look at it, death is a difficult thing to process. Months before my Grandpa passed I took time off of work to help my family care for him. At first, I mostly assisted by cooking his meals. Deep in my heart, I believed I could heal my Grandfather's stomach cancer by putting him on a "healthy" diet of plant based foods. And while I obviously can't tell you that the food saved his life I can happily say that it brought us closer in his last days. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to care for him intimately. Most importantly he knew that I, along with my entire family, was there for him.
Of the few times I've personally known someone who died, this was the one where I was most involved. It was incredibly difficult to deal with the emotion of losing my Grandfather, but the worst part had to be, that in the midst of caring for him in his final days, my family dealt with a great deal of formalities and preparation. One of these was an obituary.
My First Experience Submitting an Obituary
This was the first time I had ever submitted an obituary. I would also guess that most people, like you, have never submitted an obituary. Hopefully you won't ever have to. What I learned in this experience is that the majority of Americans (who don't want the hassle) pay a funeral director to handle this task for them. In my case, I didn't mind the trouble. In fact, I welcomed the opportunity to see what options were available to submit my Grandpa's obituary online. I was shocked at what I found.
Why Obituaries are So Difficult to Submit Online
My first step was to do a quick Google Search for "submit obituary ventura county star." The #1 result was a legacy.com URL:
When I clicked the link I was taken to one of the worst pages that you can possibly imagine. It was a page full of long text and no clear call to action. Go ahead and click on the image above to experience it for yourself. At the bottom of the page there is a red capitalized header that reads:
I had mixed emotions about my discovery. I was completely shocked by two things: first was the price (which I will discuss below). Second is that for an obituary I was about to pay $300 dollars a day for an obituary I had to actually submit via email or a help line. But a calming interest sparked inside of me when I realized that a great opportunity existed to improve the obituary process.
When I began my initial research it dawned on me that the reason why obituaries are so difficult to submit online is that there has never been a reason to. Funeral directors typically do this for the public and they have a much easier time creating it through a private submission process that the public can't access.
Why Obituaries are so Expensive
Now, I can understand why obituaries are difficult for a regular person like you and me to submit, but one thing I never quite understood is why obituaries are so
expensive. An even better question is, why do people continue to pay for expensive obituaries?
Put simply, obituaries are nothing more than a type of classified advertisement. Newspapers run on ads. Newspapers have a limited amount of space which your loved one's obituary must compete for against a number of other obituaries and other paid advertisements. It's for this reason that my example newspaper above has the following pricing structure:
In case the image above doesn't display for you it says:
$50.00 one time service fee on the first day of publication
$65.00 per photo (limit of 2 photos) one time fee on the first day of publication
$.45 per word.
*if you wish it to run for more than one day, additional days will be charged for the cost of text only
What these figures translate to is this: if you wrote a 300 word obituary for your loved one and wanted to publish it (along with 1 photo) for a single day it would cost you $250. To give you another example, the 286 word obituary we published for my Grandpa (along with 2 photos) for a single day was more than $300!
OBITUARe.com - The Easiest Way to Create an Obituary for Free
Most people will agree that saving time and money are two very important things. Something I learned while attending the 2014 National Funeral Directors Association Conference is that people across America are looking for ways to cut funeral costs. This is one reason why "cremations will account for over half
of all funerals by 2018, up from about a quarter in 1998" according to Price Economics
When you compare the cost of a $300 obituary to a $3,000 cremation it may not seem like much. Especially when you consider that there are literally no alternative options to submit obituaries. This is why we built OBITUARe.com. It was created with the intention to provide families with a better option than the traditional newspaper obituary. Not only is it better - it's free!
In addition to saving families money, OBITUARe.com was designed with simplicity in mind. I wanted to make the process of submitting an obituary both easy and pleasant while guiding a user through their emotional journey. Our small team has spent a great deal of time on the experience because we realize that our users are emotionally sensitive. We know what it feels like to grieve and deal with the logistics of a death so we created something that was less of a task and more of a unique experience.
A little more than two years have passed since I embarked on the journey to create OBITUARe.com. In dog years this is a really long time. But even in human years it was difficult at times to keep the motivation going and work through the setbacks. It goes without saying that my Grandfather is the absolute inspiration and driving force for this endeavour.
Authors note: My wife, Jackie, has been a pillar of support beginning when my Grandpa first got sick and through every step of the project. She was the one who gave the thumbs up the night we purchased the OBITUARe.com domain and flew alongside me to Nashville, Tennessee for our first visit at the National Funeral Directors Association Conference.