Can you outline your history in the industry and how Rest with Dignity began?
Rest with dignity was born out of a passion for the love of history and telling people’s stories. Our fundamental mission is that every life is to be celebrated, to cherish memories and help people leave a legacy. In 2016 Rest with Dignity, was launched due to my experience in the Print media and e-commerce industry. This was primarily focusing on the direct to market and then in 2019 pivoted toward a more business to business platform.
How are funerals changing
In the last 20 years there has been a remarkable change within the funeral industry. The funeral industry has grown and become more refined primarily with soft skills and become more service orientated like that of the hospitality industry. When looking at the digital space or social media arena, the funeral industry has slowly changed. In the past, one would find out about a funeral provider via word of mouth or by looking them up in the yellow pages.
A few leading funeral providers have now realised that by using social media wisely they are able to to keep up with the latest trends but still maintain the traditional service.
A key example of this is a video stream of a funeral. This could be for a variety of reasons. Not only due to Covid-19 , but also because some people may not be able to attend due to distance or other logistical reasons. Who would have imagined this was possible five years ago?
In addition, Funeral homes are seeing that more and more people are now requesting cremations due to cost, while some do this for Ecological reasons. This trend is growing not only in the UK, but also in North America and Continental Europe. Funeral Homes are under growing pressure to find new forms of service to add value and revenue.
What has not changed is death is still treated as a taboo. These days most of the world is living in a very social and open online presence. Most of our time is sent on the computer and in a digital world. And yet nobody is thinking about how to continue that presence once we are gone. This is where Rest with dignity comes in to open that conversation and make sure our story’s Live online and offline for our future generations.
Rest with Dignity offers the opportunity and platform to do this. It aims to allow people to create a bespoke online memorial that honours and respects the deceased. According to Global Webindex, on average every person has 6.7 social media accounts and spends up to 02:40 time online on mobile only. Hence, when a loved one is lost , they will be sharing this online with family and friends. That is where online memorials are becoming more important and a point of final contact.
What do you see as the main benefit or attraction to offering online memorials?
Rest with Dignity is the bridge between the older and more traditional generation and the younger and more individualistic generation when it comes to grief. It allows a rapidly growing digital generation who may prefer to pay their respects with messages of condolence online, and share this within their family, peers or other closed groups. With that in mind, all the messages left on the online memorial are also placed in a book of condolence.
The benefits can also be seen as having:
- A digital presence. This helps celebrate a life, cherishes memories and assists with leaving a legacy.
- An exclusive URL that is unique for the deceased.
- A book of condolences which can be handed down to future generations and which highlights the life of a loved one.
- People want to celebrate a life and the younger generation is more open to a digital memorial.
How has the reaction to online memorials changed over the years and how was the adoption of the service prior to the start of this year?
The reaction in the early days of online memorials was slow and very sober. However, in a very fast changing world and with social media touching every point of our lives. The younger generation now wish to express themselves more openly about the loss of a loved one and the online memorial is becoming a way to celebrate the life of a loved one. Therefore, the mission of Rest with Dignity is to help celebrate a life, to cherish memories and help leave a legacy.
And secondly what has been the reaction from funeral directors themselves to the technology? How have they found it as a benefit to their services?
Positive, many have come to realise how beneficial online memorials can be as an added service and provide added value to their clients and to their business. Many are starting to be market leaders in their own right. With online memorials many do want to keep the traditional value. We get a lot of feedback on new features and services, which would make a bigger impact to their business and clients.
With the impact of Covid-19 is having on the industry do you think this only highlights the usefulness of online memorials?
Not only the usefulness but it may well lead it to becoming a necessity. This could become part of our social as well as the digital evolution within the funeral industry service. Covid has only made this happen faster. With the pandemic, as people are passing away, funerals have sadly been limited. It struck me as very tragic that those loved ones may have been robbed of having their individual story’s told.
Do you think after this pandemic is over the use of online memorials will have become normalised into the industry?
Yes, and this is set to grow. This will be down to four factors:
Covid-19. – People will be practicing social distancing after the easing of the pandemic, and it will be on their minds for a long time.
Naturally, people will want to pay respects and attend a funeral. What is set to take place is that online memorials will grow and be part of the service that Funeral Undertakers offer. This can be presented to the consumer/client that the online memorial can also function as an E- Funeral notice/ invitations, while at the same time allowing grieving family and friends to pay their last respects by leaving a message of condolence .
Growing Digital Younger Generation –They will want to see and celebrate the life of a loved one and share their respects online.
Distance: In the global world we live in, some people may not able to attend due to being in another country, age or illness. Online memorials will be the online point of contact allowing them to leave a message of condolence and show their respects.
Service and Revenue: There are a few selected Funeral Home providers that have understood the true value that online memorials bring to them and their clients and have taken full advantage The large part of funeral providers are on the verge of understanding the value that online memorials can bring to them and their clients. On top of that how Online Memorials can be only be used as an exceptionally soft non-invasive brand awareness marketing tool and have that commoditised
How do you see the progress of the online memorial market over the next five to ten years?
If one looks at America, now there is a sudden shift to online live funeral streaming due to Covid 19. Though if one looks further down the road, there is an already growing demand for Artificial Intelligence, whereby live projections of the deceased are created online with messages and stories pre-recorded. (As reported on CBS News 60 minutes report) Future generations will then have the same opportunity to interact with the deceased by asking a question. Listen to them tell stories as if they were there with them. This is been done with the foundation USC Shoah Foundation set up by Steven Spielberg, which is recording messages and stories of Holocaust survivors harnessing the technologies of the present and future.…. In effect this in an interactive Online Memorial.
In the next coming months Rest with Dignity will be rolling out exciting new features to its business partners.
Rest with Dignity is ta online Memorial provider that provides a digital presence with a hardcover book of condolence.