Posthumous Messages Let You Carefully Craft Your Final Words

Posthumous Messages Let You Carefully Craft Your Final Words

We all lose our tempers from time to time, saying things we regret. If we are wise, we quickly regain our composure and take the time to apologize for saying things we didn’t mean. However, stubbornness can get the best of all of us sometimes.

Have you ever left a heated argument with someone you loved and had the convicting thought, “What if that was the last thing I ever had a chance to say to them?” Through the generations that thought has helped many people hold their tongues and consider their words carefully.

However, you don’t have to live in fear that your last words to anyone you care about would be anything less than your heart’s desire for them. You can not predict when you will die, but you can plan in advance to have posthumous messages delivered to all the people you care about.

Whether your last physical conversation was a silly discussion about a television show, an angry argument, or an expression of love, the words you leave someone with after you die can be carefully crafted to express everything you need them to know.

SafeBeyond lets you write out messages and will deliver them for you after you die. You can compose a single final message for everyone in your life, or you can write individuals several different messages to be delivered throughout their lives, so you remain a presence of comfort and support for them even after your death. Take a few minutes today to begin, your loved ones will be so grateful for your thoughtfulness.

Pre-death video service to send messages from beyond grave to grieving loved ones launched

Pre-death video service to send messages from beyond grave to grieving loved ones launched

PS. I Love You with Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler
Message from beyond: Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler in PS. I Love You

A spooky new service that sends beyond-the-grave messages to grieving loved ones, is being launched in Britain today.

Inspired by the Gerard Butler, Hilary Swank film PS I Love You where a widow receives a series of uplifting letters from her late husband, Heavenote lets the living film a pre-death video to be screened on their passing.

The footage is securely stored on a database until official confirmation that the person has died, before it is released to family and friends who have been named in a digital legacy.

Already popular in America where high risk workers like the armed forces and fire fighters have signed up, it is the brainchild of businessman Vincenzo Rusciano.

The start-up project has been financed by crowdfunding and is said to be foolproof so it does not send out the dearly departed’s final message to the world ahead of them dying.

Gerard Butler in P.S. I Love You
Gerard Butler in P.S. I Love You

Once the poignant farewell has been filmed, a named trustee is given a codeword which is tapped into a secure database when the person dies to verify their passing and then the message is sent to a list of recipients.

Alternatively, users can set a time for Heavenote to contact them to ask “Are you alive”.

If no answer is received at the agreed time of contact, the system assumes you have died and sends out the message.

It costs £22 for a ten minute video and Mr Rusciano who has a daily Heavenote death check said: “I theoretically die every day to check that the site’s working as it should.”

And in two weeks Heavenote will launch a smartphone app that allows those signing up to send a message to their Facebook page after death.

Mr Rusciano said: “When working in Barcelona, I saw a number of bad accidents whilst on my motorbike and wondered how I’d get the chance to say goodbye to the people important to me when my time came. This hit home when a friend of mine suddenly passed away.

“And seeing the film PS I Love You illustrated the impact of leaving messages. The digital age can make this much easier to do.”

The service has been developed by start-up specialist Innovify and boss Maulik Sailor said: “Almost all digital legacy services are focused on the practical administration of assets, but Heavenote supports the equally, if not more, important emotional and relationship legacy.

“Yes, it’s handy people can access your bank or social media account but what about that lasting and most important message you want to leave behind that you never got the chance to say in person?”

Would you film a pre-death message to your loved ones?

O'BRIEN: Thanks to technology, you can stay in touch with loved ones after death

O’BRIEN: Thanks to technology, you can stay in touch with loved ones after death

Imagine getting a notification from your smartphone that you have a text from your father on your birthday.

That’s not a big deal … unless your father had died years ago.

It may sound kind of creepy, but it could be normal in the future.

A company called SwonSong is entering the market of digital legacy solutions. The app will give its users the ability to record and save video clips, audio clips or written messages and schedule when to have them delivered.

Want to wish Junior a happy birthday in 2040 when you’re long gone? You can do that with the app. SwonSong is looking for funding to help finish coding work needed to make it available for iOS and Android devices by the fall.

“I got the idea for the app when I lost my own mother to dementia,” said David Lamonby, one of SwonSong’s co-creators, in a release. “It was heart-breaking to see the person I loved and knew so well gradually fade away and be replaced by another desperately unhappy person. This app would have allowed her to record message when she was healthy and before the illness totally changed her personality and eventually took her from us.”

If this technology had been around in the late 1950s, I may have heard from my father’s dad, who died when my father was just 12 years old. I’ve always been curious about what he sounded like and what kind of personality he had. It would be neat to compare him to my father and see if they have similar quirks. My grandpa Jim would have a spot at my “invite any three people to dinner” question.

Technology makes it easier than ever to reach out to our loved ones in the afterlife. We’ve all seen TV shows or movies where people sit around a lawyer’s office and the lawyer pops in a VHS tape or DVD to hear the dead person read the will to loved ones gathered.

Now, you can just schedule an email, attach your self-made video to a file and save the hassle of going to an office to tell them what they’re getting from you.

Thanks to the explosion of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, many of us have rather large digital legacies to handle once we die. For many years, a person’s social media accounts were basically frozen when they died. Facebook integrated a “legacy contact” feature in February that lets users designate someone to post a final message and manage the page once the user has died.

Choosing a digital executor in legal wills is a new phenomenon as well. A Harris Poll showed 70 percent of those who responded have no digital executor. More than half of those who had no digital executor didn’t know they needed one, and 39 percent assumed their family could just go in and change their accounts. A little more than half of those with social media accounts said they would want them deleted after death.

I’ll keep my social media going long after I’m gone and schedule videos to be posted to help my friends and family remember me. I’ll even make a special message to have posted if the Cubs win the World Series to congratulate their fans for sticking it out over the centuries.

Business of death care gets a technology makeover

Business of death care gets a technology makeover

Death is big business.

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With more than half a million people in the UK dying each year, the funeral industry makes about £2bn in annual revenues, according to market research company Ibis World.

Nearly 1,500 businesses employ 20,105 people, and industry revenue is expected to grow by 4.7% by the end of 2014, as increased competition for burial space is slowly pushing up the price of cremations.

With such a large and lucrative market, it’s no surprise that tech firms have been eyeing up the death care and funeral industry.

Video wills

Your Last Will, for example, is an iPhone app that lets anyone create a last message for loved ones in the form of a “video will”, to be viewed after death.

You create and upload a private video will and are then issued your own QR code – a kind of smartphone readable bar code – which you give to a trusted confidant who is likely to outlive you.

After your death, your confidant signs in to the app using the specified QR code and receives an email containing a link to your last message video. This link is automatically sent to your chosen list of recipients.

Screengrab of public wills page on Your Last Will
Screengrab of public wills page on Your Last Will

Some people are leaving final messages to loved ones and the general public via iPhone apps

The company acknowledges that “in most countries video wills cannot replace written wills”, but for an additional fee, Your Last Will does provide the opportunity to have your video submitted for legal review in what it describes as “an easy process”.

“Death is obviously an unpleasant but unavoidable part of life and it’s much easier to leave a last message or last will via video than in the traditional way, which involves a lawyer and witnesses,” Wolfgang Gabler, chief executive and founder of Your Last Will, told the BBC.

He believes technology will continue to influence death care in the UK and across the world.

“There will be many new businesses around this theme in the near future. I already met with other start-ups that are working on other issues of life and death,” he says.

“Our goal is to make it really easy and comfortable for people dealing with this important subject.”

‘Multi-planetary species’

Some firms are more creative with their ideas. Celestis, for example, is a US-based company that uses rocket technology to blast human remains into space.

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“Start Quote

There is an increasing number of apps being used by funeral directors”

National Association of Funeral Directors

The first “memorial spaceflight” took Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary to the stars in 1997.

Since then, the company has added a variety of options. A simple Earth orbit service will cost $4,995 (£2,930), but something more fancy, such as a lunar orbit, will cost $12,500.

And in 2016 the Voyager service will truly go where no-one has gone before.

Using solar sail technology – which uses radiation pressure from the sun as a means of propulsion – to power the flight, the idea is that the craft will travel on indefinitely into deep space.

Appropriately enough, the remains of Gene Roddenberry and his wife Majel, and James Doohan who played Scotty in the series, are part of the crew on this continuing mission.

Once the remains have been launched into the stratosphere loved ones can track the deceased in real time with live satellite feeds on the Celestis website.

Biographies may also be uploaded and DVDs of the launch are available as part of the package deal.

Ashes canisters in section of rocket
Ashes canisters in section of rocket

Small canisters of loved ones’ ashes are fitted inside the body of the rocket….

…before being blasted into space watched by friends and relatives

“We don’t think of our services as an expensive novelty, with prices beginning at $1,000 and the average cost of a funeral in the US reaching $8,000,” Celestis founder Charles Chafer told the BBC.

“But rather, we offer a compelling tribute for someone who has longed to travel in space as their final wish.

“We do believe that as humanity becomes a multi-planetary species we will take all of our rituals and memorials with us, including our funeral and memorial services, not as a solution to reduced available space on Earth but as part of a natural evolution.”

Bitcoin funeral

Technology is also being used in less bombastic ways, with some individuals paying for funerals with bitcoins, the digital crypto-currency.

One user of popular news aggregator Reddit described last year how he paid for his grandmother’s funeral with the currency.

Some undertakers have accepted bitcoins as payment for funerals

Kadhim Shubber, who writes for Bitcoin news site CoinDesk, is not surprised a funeral has been paid for with bitcoins, particularly as the currency is already being used in healthcare in various parts of the world, including London.

“On the whole we find that committed bitcoiners are keen to pay in bitcoin wherever they’re able. Already there are doctors in California and elsewhere who accept bitcoin payments for privacy reasons and a private practice in London does too,” he says.

Apps v tradition

The traditionally conservative funeral business is certainly becoming more technology aware, the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) believes.

“There is an increasing number of apps being used by funeral directors, and the NAFD has an arrangement with a company providing apps to our members,” a spokesman said.

“The vast majority of members have websites, so there is a growing number of ways funeral directors can reach and inform the public.”

For example, the NAFD’s free online obituary service, Forever Online, enables relatives and friends to inform everyone of a bereavement via the internet, complementing the usual newspaper announcements.

Funeral directors are having to move with the times

While “smart funeral software” from the likes of Cemneo is on the increase, the NAFD, which represents 80% of all funeral homes in the UK, says it has yet to see the swathes of new funeral and death-care-focused start-ups that Your Last Will’s Mr Gabler believes are on the horizon.

“Bereaved families are becoming more involved with funerals – how they should be conducted and the content of the ceremony – and there is a lot more personalisation of funerals than there has been previously.

“So the vast majority of funerals are still arranged face-to-face between the bereaved families and the funeral director,” the spokesman said.

It seems that for the time being, funerals will remain relatively traditional.

But it may not be long before many of us are booking funerals on our smartphones, watching pre-recorded “wills” on our tablets, and blasting loved ones into space, quietly monitoring their ashes orbiting the earth on our smart TVs, instead of visiting a dreary graveyard.