Obituary Data Discovery Project by OBITUARe.com

Any person who has created and/or submitted an obituary to a newspaper is aware of the painful inefficiency and cost. This is why OBITUARe.com was built to be the easiest way to create and share a free obituary. To understand exactly how we compare to newspapers I welcome you to view our comparison page.

The purpose of the comparison page is to provide insight about the benefits of using OBITUARe.com to memorialize a loved one.  The data we used to drive our original analysis was based on a small subset of newspapers across the country.  To further support these claims and uncover more valuable insights we want to expand on the original data with the Obituary Data Discovery (ODD) Project.

What is the Obituary Data Discovery Project?

The ODD Project will begin as a public survey to gather obituary data on 2 newspapers within our Nation’s 50 largest cities (by population).  Ideally we will target 1 large and 1 small(er) organization. Here is a link to the current list we’ve aggregated.

If you have a suggestion for a specific newspaper please leave a comment or feel free to email me.

Or, if you know of a study similar to the ODD Project, please send me an email.

How Will it Work?

That’s a great question.  I have personally researched the pricing structures and obituary process for over 100 newspapers around the country but I’ve realized that this is not enough.  In order to generate trust and confidence in the data I will need help from you and the public.  This will ensure that the results are objective and reliable.  With that said, if you or anybody you know has an interest in helping us with this project please read the Next Steps section below.  You can leave a comment or email me directly if you have questions.

I also plan to post something on Reddit where I link back to this post for detail.  I’m hoping that there are friendly folks out there that share a common interest in making new discoveries.

What is the Goal?

Our goal is to help our customers make an informed decision by sharing insightful data about the cost and process of submitting obituaries.  The collection of data will be ongoing, but once we reach 10 responses we will start to compare the results to the cost and process of submitting an obituary at OBITUARe.com.

Ultimately, we want people to understand the value using OBITUARe.com to honor a loved.  If someone really wants a printed obituary we want them to know that they can do that on OBITUARe.com!

In order for people to understand the value of OBITUARe.com in comparison to its antiquated competitor it’s important to answer questions like:

How much time can I save by submitting an obituary on OBITUARe.com vs. the newspaper?

How much money can I save by skipping the newspaper and submitting on OBITUARe.com?

We will be able to answer these questions above and gather specific insights into the myriad cost structures and submission processes that exist throughout the United States once we gather enough data.  Because each newspaper is so different we will work to discover a broad data set that is useful for educating the public.

Next Steps

1. Find a newspaper in your hometown or select one from our list here

2. Open this survey link and answer each question

When you’re done your information will automatically be aggregated with all other responses.  Right after you click “Submit” you will have an option to see visualizations of this data.

 

 

 

My First Experience with Death

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:

PRICING:
$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.

For my Grandfather – David Ramos

A Catalyst for Good

More than two years have lapsed since my grandfather’s passing.  In the midst of my loss I tried to pursue the good that could arise out of that difficult experience, and as a result, I funneled my energy and emotion into the making of OBITUARe.com. My grandfather, David Ramos, was the catalyst for my decision to embark on this journey so I feel that it’s necessary to share a little bit about the man who taught me some of life’s most precious virtues.

His Eulogy

My mom, little brother, and I lived with my grandparents from the time that I was 3 years old until I was 12. It was during these formative years that he became my role-model. Below is the eulogy I wrote for my grandpa and delivered at his Celebration of Life service.

“I’m extremely grateful to my family for allowing me this opportunity to share with all of you stories of my grandfather or Tata, as we called him.

Today we honor your husband, our father, our grandfather, your brother and your friend.  We give thanks to him for sharing his love and sowing the seeds in our lives that have influenced who we are today.  We remember him for his thoughtful ways, gentle smile, musical talents and the fruit from his garden.

There are many stories that can be told of David’s life.  Some good and some that won’t be mentioned here today.  David’s story began in the small town of Santa Paula, CA.  When I think about him being born nearly a century ago I start wonder what his world was like and how it shaped him.  Six years before he was born his mother Emma could not vote.  At the age of four David and his three siblings experienced the Great Depression first hand.   By the time he was twenty he had already seen two World Wars and served in the second as a paratrooper in Japan and the Philippines.  After David was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army he married the love of his life and began sewing those fertile seeds.  He spent the next decade traveling up and down the rural coast of California looking for seasonal work.  Later he became a mechanic and also laid asphalt as a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  Eventually, his work provided him the opportunity to buy a home for his family on Orange Dr.  Needless to say, David worked hard.  When he came home to rest in his chair, his children would unlace his boot strings and massage his feet.

It was a different world that he grew up in.  In some ways it was simpler.  Back then his kids could pile into the back of his pick-up truck and go for a ride.  And in other ways it was more difficult.  Take for instance that in 1962, when he purchased his home, Mexicans weren’t allowed to own property in the estates of El Rio, but somehow he found a way.

Experiences such as these shaped David and instilled in him the values and characteristics for which we grew to love.  He was perseverant, stubborn, argumentative and outright combative to his last day.  He was a man of strong convictions and there wasn’t a chance in hell you could sway his political views.

By the time I entered into my Tata’s life he was a born again Christian.  Now you would think that the Lord would have delivered him from his rough ways.  Well not exactly, he just gave him grandchildren.  Tata and Nana kept a decorative pillow that read “If I would have known grandchildren were so much fun I would have had them first.”  For the next 30 years of Tata’s life we all witnessed his gentler side.  His home was a safe haven and his yard was our playground.  Tata built us tree forts, showed us how to garden and taught us all how fix our cars as he had with his own sons.  For those who didn’t learn, he did it for them.  His tools would constantly go missing and no matter how many windows we broke with a baseball he loved us just the same.

He was a role model for his grandsons and taught us all that random acts of kindness along with a fresh bouquet of flowers were the way to a woman’s heart.  Tata loved Nana to the end of the earth and demonstrated this in the simplest ways.  When spring arrived, no one dared to pluck a single fruit until Nana had her first fig.  It was she who cooked the meals but Tata who insisted on doing the dishes.  He set a precedent for his granddaughters who learned from Tata how a woman should be loved.  He wrote her songs, sang melodies, and played the accordion so that together they could spread the ministry of their Savior.  Music was a gift that Tata carried with him through life and passed down to his children.

We thank you for these gifts Tata.  We recognize your dual nature that is a part of each of us and appreciate the bad with the good.  We never took it personally when you hung up the phone before saying goodbye.  Instead, we will remember your tokens of wisdom, your generosity and the way you shared of yourself and the fruit from your garden. Your love for your family was unending and it is your generous and compassionate spirit that lives within us.”