It has been said that a funeral is not a day in a lifetime, it is a lifetime in a day.
If this is the case, just imagine how many people have been touched by one life. When it comes to a death announcement, the time a family member or close friend has to inform the lifetime of connections about a passing, this makes the process very overwhelming.
There are truly so many ways of letting people know about the death, funeral arrangements, services, wake, dinner, and all the other details. Each have their pros and cons; some are simple, over complicated, antiquated, unproven, costly, or free. So to hopefully help you all having to make this tough decision, I decided to go through the most popular options of announcement distribution and weigh in on each.
A Newspaper Obituary
The printed obituary is the traditional and process based way to announce a death. It is a news article that reports the recent death of a person and typically includes an account of the person’s life and information about the upcoming services. It’s a tradition, with cut outs typically saved, framed, and remembered. Unfortunately it’s not free, actually far from as the average costs between $400-$600 dollars. And being the oldest form of announcement it has a few drawbacks — it’s slow, not timely and decreasing in its reach. And you really have to hope people read the print or digital newspaper, and more so that that the paper can get the information printed prior to the events.
It’s a tradition that will still be around for a while, but it just really has lost a lot of effectiveness.
A Phone Call
One can always call people to relay the news. This self created process ensures that you decide who you want to know the information and what the exact message they receive is. A call is the epitome for privacy and exclusivity. But with the manual-ness, time per call, and emotional energy spent per – it can be exhausting. During this time you are overwhelmed with decisions, and calling every contact in your phone might be the last thing you want to do. As is, you’re already going to be receiving inbound calls from family and friends when they start to hear the news from others, so outbound calling people might just be too much.
For small groups this is definitely a great option, but from what I’ve heard from families it truly is taxing, and because of this you end up not reaching everyone you’d want to join you for events.
A Social Media Posts – Facebook, Twitter, and yes…even Instagram. No, not snapchat.
As social media turned into the place everyone shares all of their feelings (along with just about everything else they interact with), it was only natural to turn into a major way we share news about a passing.
On Twitter you’d tweet about it. It’s short and sweet and can easily include a link to the funeral home’s website with obituary information. But, with Twitter’s chronological timeline, if your followers aren’t online when you tweet, the news is most likely to be missed. You’d also need of course your friends and family on twitter, which is rare.
Then there is Facebook. Almost everyone you know is on Facebook. It’s the easiest way to get any bit of information broadcasted out, with anything having the possibility of going viral. With such a public medium, the question is, do you want everyone you’ve ever come into contact with to know about the death? Does your ex-partner (because you are definitely still facebook friends) really need to know? Or what about that classmate who you shared your notes for organic chemistry with? Do they need to know? Will they care? There’s just a complete lack of control and privacy, which at times can cause family members to be upset that they had to find out about the death this way instead of something more personal. Even accepting the publicness of a post, the average post these days only gets around 3% organic reach (3 out of 100 people see it on their feed), meaning even though Facebook has huge reach, a lot of people still miss information.
Lastly, you could always upload a photo of you and your loved one who recently passed on Instagram. This is a nice way to memorialize them and an option for you to remember a story. But individual posts don’t allow clickable links, so it’s hard to give a ton of details and let people know where to find more information. The photo might spark some conversation but typically you’ll only receive likes from your post – which are great but don’t help with knowing much about who knows what news and if you will be seeing them at an event.
Across all of these channels the common thread I hear is; do I really have to do this next to pictures of my cat or me partying? Using a channel you share everything on means that this announcement will be next to everything you share. It’s amazing how information spreads, but it’s very difficult to inventory the comments and notes received – and use all of the information to know who knows what and who is attending what.
Emailing each of your contacts about the death is straightforward. Family and friends can send their condolences and you won’t have to spend a lot of time or emotion talking to each person individually. It’s efficient. But, it might be hard to have everyone’s email addresses. Email might no longer be the preferred method of getting in touch digitally, especially as it has become a place to hold spam, daily deals, newsletters and all those purchase receipts. A brief note from someone trying to share some news can easily get lost. And I’ve realized that unless people work online at their job, they often don’t check their emails daily. And older generations often don’t even have an email address. You can send an email one at a time, all in bulk where everyone can reply to one another, or the dreaded group BCC – I’d say it all depends on the size of your recipients list and closeness of recipients.
Email is to the point, but lacks any true emotional connecting between you and the recipient. It’s utilitarian and will get the job done for the most part, just might be the ideal touch point with friends and family. Plus, to do it correctly, you will need to send individual emails to each person.
Technology Announcements Overall Tangent
The largest benefit to using any online based communication is that all can link to the funeral home’s website, which typically has all of the obituary details and event information. Often times family rely only on the funeral home website to distribute the information of a passing. The website should only be looked at as a landing page to your communication channel. Drawbacks to hoping people find their way to the website are: 1, they have to be aware of your loss, 2, aware of the funeral home being used, 3, have seen a note on the loss somewhere.
A Text Message
Text messaging is the easiest form of communicating with family, friends, and those in your community today. It’s short, sweet and controlled. You can send information through a group message or to individuals. The best part? You most likely have everyone’s phone numbers, and you know they will receive the information. Seems simple. Individual and group texts have the possibility of massive responses from your invitees – while offering a very simple channel to receive condolences. But while, it’s nice to receive these messages, it will keep your phone occupied for awhile. It also can be challenging to respond to each message you receive in reply. And lastly one of the worst parts we’ve heard from families is that all of the beautiful condolences sent eventually get lost in the future stream of texts, gifs, and photos sent between you.
It’s as close to a guarantee of delivery of the information as possible. You control when the information is sent, who receives it, and when you reply to any notes back. No doubt it will spark phone calls to you, but that’s a good thing. Get the information out there, in a private manor, and controlled message – all with knowing the announcement has most likely been read.
With all of the options out there, it can be overwhelming to even make the decision about how you will let everyone know the news of a passing. Our team recognized that the only formal process even presented to families by funeral directors is a newspaper obituary – and that just isn’t a good enough solution for families. Adapting to new options, like social media, email or text messages allows for more privacy and control of the message in email and text, mass distribution to one’s contacts, and virality of social media. That’s why we created Everdays. Everdays tries to pull together the best parts of each sharing channel to ensure that you, family, and friends will never have to go through losing someone alone.
As you can see there are lots of ways to notify your networks of a loved one’s passing. Have you found a certain method to be more beneficial than another? Let us know what your preferred method is in the comments.
-Katie Wallace, Manager of Client Relations, Everdays