Monday, February 29, 2016

What Happens to Your Social Media Profiles After You Die?

Death during the 21st century is a tad more complicated than in the past with the introduction of the Internet, e-mail, and social media. In addition to funeral arrangements and financial arrangements, families of the deceased must now decide what to do with social media accounts!

So what happens to your social media profiles when you die? The answer to this question depends entirely on which social media platform you’re asking about.

Facebook: You have two options with Facebook. Immediate families, after showing proper documentation, can choose to close the entire account or turn their profile into a memorial page. Should you choose to go with the memorial page, Facebook will remove sensitive information from the profile (contact information and addresses), removes all status updates, and also changes the profile settings so that only friends can find the profile and post information to the memorial wall.

The profile will no long show up in the “People You May Know” section, nor will friends be reminded of the deceased’s birthday. Facebook will also deactivate the user’s login information to prevent anyone from guessing the user’s password and logging in.

If no notice is given, Facebook will leave the profile as-is forever.

Would you like to put in the request to deactivate a deceased person’s account or create a memorial page? Click HERE 

Twitter: After six months of inactivity, Twitter automatically starts deleting inactive accounts. Upon receiving proper documentation, Twitter will deactivate an account for a death notice. At no point in time will Twitter release the login information for a deceased person’s account, regardless of your relation.

Uniquely, Twitter will not recycle any username information. So, your username is yours to keep!

Would you like to put in the request to deactivate a deceased person’s account? Click HERE

Instagram: While Instagram won’t release any login information, they do give you options for the deceased’s account. Just like Facebook, you can choose to Memorialize the page or remove the account altogether.  They require certain documentation to support your claim, but an immediate family member can submit the form at any time.

Would you like to put in the request to remove a deceased person’s account or create a memorial page? Click HERE

LinkedIn: Your profile will remain live until notice is given. An immediate family member must submit the request along with documentation and additional information like the link to the obituary. After review, LinkedIn will close the account and remove the deceased’s profile.

Would you like to put in the request to close a deceased person’s account? Click HERE

Gmail: Did you know you can decide what you want done with your account before you die? Google calls it their “Inactive Account Manager.” You can decide who has access to your information ahead of time.

If this wasn’t set up, an immediate family member can submit a request to either close the account or request very specific information from the account. At no time will Google release login information.  Also, even after the account has been deactivated, Google does not re-release the username to be taken by someone else.

Would you like to set up your Inactive Account Manager or submit a request on behalf of a deceased person? Click HERE

Want to learn more? Read some of these great articles!

View: “What happens to all my social networking information when I die?” by Jonathan Strickland

View: “What Happens to Your Social Media Profiles When You Die?” by Sylvan Lane

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Token of Love

It is customary to leave flowers and gifts at the headstones of our loved ones. But have you ever wondered what some of them mean? While something left behind for a loved one can be something personal between the two of you, some things have a cultural background.

The most common items left on graves, besides flowers, are stones and rocks. This is primarily a Jewish custom. In the Old Testament, the sons of Jacob and Rachel placed stones over their mother’s grave. One reason people place stones on graves is that they believe it keeps the soul down. This theory, with roots in the Talmud, cites that souls con­tinue to dwell for a while in the graves in which they are placed. The grave, called a beit olam (a permanent home), was thought to retain some aspect of the departed soul.

Rocks are favored over flowers on Jewish graves because flowers were considered pagan. Also, rocks have a more permanent symbolism than flowers, which fade and eventually die. This practice has gone beyond Jewish custom and is now embraced by people of all faiths. The reason is simple. It’s an easy way to leave a small memento that someone was there to visit the grave, to honor the deceased.

Another common item left on graves is a coin. This practice has its origins in ancient Greek mythology. Kharon (or Charon) was the ferryman of the dead, an underworld demon. He received the shades of the dead from Hermes, who gathered them from the upper world and guided them to the shores of the Akheron, one of the five rivers in Hades. From there, Kharon took them in his boat to a final resting place in Hades, the land of the dead, on the other side. The fee was a single obolos coin, which was placed in the mouth of a corpse at burial. Those who had not received due burial and were unable to pay their fee would be left to wander the earthly side of the Akheron (some say it is the River Styx and not the Akheron), haunting the upper world as ghosts.

A coin left on a headstone lets the deceased soldier’s family know that somebody stopped by to pay their respect. Leaving a penny means you visited. A nickel means that you and the deceased soldier trained at boot camp together. If you served with the soldier, you leave a dime. A quarter is very significant because it means that you were there when that soldier died.

Celebrities get their own personalized tokens of love and remembrance. At Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, visitors leave golf balls at the grave of legendary golfer Bobby Jones. People leave Campbell soup cans on artist Andy Warhol’s grave in homage to his famous painting of…a can of soup. Fans of Elvis leave scores of teddy bears on his grave at Graceland. One famous example involves the grave of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. Her ex-husband (and baseball legend) Joe DiMaggio set up an account with a local florist to put roses on Marilyn’s grave three times a week for 20 years after her death. He reportedly promised her on their wedding night that if anything were to happen to her he would honor her in some special way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

4 Ways To Think Outside The Box When Honoring A Loved One

“I was supposed to live to be 102 and be shot by a jealous husband,” one man’s tombstone reads. Another’s says, “Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and no place to go.” And a psychic’s reads, “I knew this would happen.” 

It’s not disrespectful to be creative, even funny, when dealing with end of life matters. In fact, it’s likely to help cope with the grief.

Obituaries don’t have to be dry or formulaic. “After 96 years of laughing, loving, shouting, learning, teaching and building, Henry passed away,” began one in the January 31st issue of The New York Times. The writer described the deceased the way a good author constructs a character – showing, rather than telling. It went on to say, “Although he over salted everything, he managed to live to 96.” In these simply, short lines, we truly got to know Henry and understand why he will be missed.

That’s what a funeral service should truly do – tell the amazing, personal, detailed story of a person’s life. This means both the good, the bad, the funny and the sad moments. And sometimes, it means that you have to go out of the box to truly honor the life lived.

Focus On Moments That Will Kickstart The Healing

A 68 year-old woman was grappling with what was to say at her mother’s funeral. Their relationship had been strained until the last few months, when the 92 year-old matriarch finally gave her daughter the approval and love she’d craved. 

When it came time to prepare her mother’s eulogy, she thought back on their relationship and she knew what she would most like to hear to help her heal and move forward… she didn’t sugarcoat her mother’s memory. “I will be grieving the mother I had these last few months,” she told the small gathering, “and I learned that it’s never too late to make things better. I intend to use my remaining years to do that with my own children.” 

Their eyes filling with tears, her two daughters stepped forward and linked their arms through hers, remaining that way while the 23rd Psalm was recited. Instead of simply paying tribute to the dead, the eulogy served to communicate with the living and launch a healing process. Reminded by death that time is finite, we may be inspired to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

When It Comes To Memories, Show, Don’t Tell

Funerals, wakes and memorial services should be more than just a series of speeches. Photos, videos, music, activities, and personalized products can all make a service distinctive. Here are a few out of the box ways to make a funeral as unique as the life lived:

1. Share the loved one’s prized possessions
Are your families often concerned that they will be too choked up to speak? If so, suggest that they begin the service with the favorite song of their loved one. For example, a family who lost their grandfather played the Yiddish songs he’d loved at the start of his service. Not only was this a great way to inject his personality into the service, but the family also had some extra time to reflect and compose themselves before the eulogy.

loved one

Another great way to add some personal elements into a loved one’s service is share the things that meant the most to them – literally. If in the eulogy you talk about what a great cook grandma was, give everyone a copy of her famous lemon cake recipe after the service. This helps to add a personal element into the service that will really help everyone reflect on the meaningful moments in a person’s life, and it will help their legacy live on.

2. Make the loved one the star of their funeral
If the loved one was the center of the party in life, why not help them be the same at their funeral? “Extreme embalming” is not widely available and may be too offbeat to have wide appeal, but many families have used this unique service as a way to truly make their loved one a part of their own funeral. For example, one flamboyant New Orleans woman got to attend her own funeral, having been embalmed and posed sitting at a table with a glass of beer and cigarette, a disco ball glittering above her head while another, an 83 year-old socialite was similarly done up with a pink boa and holding a glass of champagne. Others have been placed on a favorite rocking chair, motorcycle and in a poker game. 

3. Lay loved ones to rest in a personalized way
Was grandpa or dad an enthusiastic handyman? Help your families really become involved in the funeral service by having them embrace their loved one’s do-it-yourself-mindset, and share with them this YouTube video that teaches them how to build their own coffin. Or maybe their loved one had another hobby that they were enthusiastic about, like music, skateboarding, ballet or bible study. One British company called Crazy Coffins will create a quirky final resting place that truly reflects the life lived, whether it’s a coffin shaped like a guitar, a Bible, or even their favorite sports car. 

loved one's urn

And just because your families may choose to have their loved one’s cremated doesn’t mean that they can’t personalize their final resting place. Une Belle Vie creates beautiful urns that resemble a resin handbag, which is perfect for fashionistas. Another company, Personalized Urns, works one-on-one with families to choose colors and photos that best represent their loved one (and even their pets), to turn an ordinary cremation urn into a mosaic work of art that tells the story of a life lived.

4. Create memorials for all friends and family – not just those at the funeral
Because of the fast-paced nature of funerals, not every family member or friend has time to take off work or arrange travel to their loved one’s funeral…. especially when family members are spread across the country. This is why there is a great need for services that bring outside family and friends into the funeral service itself. Life Tributes’ webcasting software allows you to share the private viewing of memorials happening at your funeral with those all around the world – over the internet, in a safe secure location. The webcast can even be uploaded to the loved one’s tribute page on your website, alongside obituary information, messages of support and their Life Tribute video – creating a complete and lasting memorial page that family and friends can forever look back on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Do you know your community?

As a business owner, do you know your community? Most people would probably answer yes to that question, but very often the way we perceive everything around isn't based on actual data or facts but our own personal observations. While instincts and personal experience can certainly be valuable, they don’t provide all of the information necessary to make strategic and tactical decisions that can result in long term success for your business. 

First step is pulling up the data in your community to get a better idea of what you are working with. This type of market research can reveal information about trends that may impact the future of your business. This research can bring to light opportunities and potential challenges, and can help you re-evaluate your marketing, products, and service. Having a strong understanding of your community's demographics is important, and you can learn more right away just by pulling up these stats:
  • Total population
  • Gender mix
  • Ethnicity
  • Income
  • Education
  • Marital status
  • Age distribution, with an emphasis on age 65+
These data points help analysts determine a great deal about the future of a community. Here are some examples of how understanding the characteristics of your community’s residents can impact your firm:

Total population Examining this data can provide insights on population trends, such as whether or not your community is growing. You’ll also have the opportunity to plan for what this data could mean for your long-term business viability. It’s great for a community to experience growth, but you’ll need to be prepared to expand your business (staff, facilities, etc.) in order to meet demand. If the data indicates a trend of population decline, what actions would you take?

Ethnicity The United States is experiencing notable shifts in ethnic makeup. If the population is expected to change in your area, how will you alter or supplement your firm’s services to meet the needs of your client families? Consider how you and your staff can acquire the knowledge and skills required to best meet your customers’ needs.

Income It’s important to gather data about income, as this can drive your service offering and pricing decisions. You’ll also want to measure and assess the expected income trends for your area. Of course, income is just one of the factors that may affect your pricing model. Don’t forget that “price shoppers” still want to receive high value for their money.

Age distribution Research indicates that people ages 65+ are receptive to the benefits of advance funeral planning. People in this group may be more emotionally and rationally prepared to prearrange their funerals. Is the number of people in this age group expected to grow or decline for your community?

When you know your community you'll have the base you need to improve your services and be better equipped to serve your families, which will only help your business's long term success!