An online memorial is a virtual space created on the Internet for the purpose of remembering, celebrating, or commemorating those who have died. An online memorial may be a one-page HTML webpage document giving the name of the deceased and a few words of tribute, an extensive information source, or be part of a social media platform where users can add their own words and photos.

An example of an online memorial is The COVID Memorial, which is a global memorial to commemorate all those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.[1]

History edit

A few individual online memorials started appearing on the Internet in the late 1990s. Many were websites created in response to the death of a person who was in the public eye, rather than for general members of the public. Popular memorial sites include ForeverMissed, MyKeeper, Online-Tribute, EverLoved. One other example of this is the collective memorial website Find a Grave, which at that time was focused on publishing memorial information about famous people.[2] Also during the 1990s, newspapers and funeral homes began contributing obituaries to permanent online databases. Online cemeteries, the first of which was launched in 1995 as the World Wide Cemetery (, also host online memorials.[3]

In 1997, Carla Sofka, Professor of Social Work, in her article 'Social support "Internetworks," caskets for sale, and more: Thanatology and the information superhighway',[4] recognized the increasing use of this new form of memorialisation. Online memorials for public events, such as the one created by the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, also began to appear, allowing a collective response to events causing widespread grief.[5]

In the 2000s, with the development of social media platforms and simplified website creation software, the numbers of individual online memorials has increased rapidly.[6] There was another acceleration following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Benefits of online memorials edit

Online memorials allow participation in the grieving process from a distance and at any time of the day or night; in the view of some sociologists, such public displays of grief are important for emotional recovery after bereavement.[7] They provide a communications outlet for continued grieving when more formal events have ended. Availability of inexpensive or free online space allows grievers to include extensive content such as stories and discussions. Unlike some other types of memorials,[8] they have little environmental impact. Facebook can give people the opportunity to keep the deceased a part of their lives by posting on their walls during the holidays, birthdays, and other important dates in their lives or the bereaved life. Online memorials also give the bereaved the ability to pull up the deceased page and go through the comments or pictures when they are having a particularly difficult time and want to remember good memories they once shared with the deceased. Continuing bonds and expressing feelings toward the deceased can be considered therapeutic to the bereaved.[9]

Memorial pages on social media edit

Many online memorial platforms, as well as individual memorials created on general social media sites and blogs, allow memorials to be built in a collaborative fashion by mourners, who share their expressions of grief in the form of comments or posts.[10]

Social media pages created by people who have later died are sometimes converted into memorial sites.[11][12] Facebook, for example, provides a process for transforming the profile of a deceased user into a memorial.[13] Family members or friends can report an account to be memorialized upon presentation of proof of death.[13] When the account is memorialized, Facebook removes sensitive information such as contact information and status updates, but still enables friends and family to leave posts on the profile wall in remembrance. However, only confirmed friends can see the memorialized profile or locate it in search.[14]

Fundraising in memory edit

Online memorials are sometimes used to collect in memoriam donations to charitable or non-profit organizations, to fund medical research, hospices, or community activities and hobbies in which the deceased participated.

References edit

  1. ^ "Milton Keynes company launches digital COVID-19 memorial to put a 'human face to each life lost". ‘’MKFM’’
  2. ^ Wright, Elizabethada A. (2005). "Rhetorical Spaces in Memorial Places: The Cemetery as a Rhetorical Memory Place/Space". Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 35 (4): 51–81. doi:10.1080/02773940509391322. ISSN 0277-3945. JSTOR 40232609. S2CID 143318299.
  3. ^ PM, Kyle Chayka On 8/17/14 at 1:35 (2014-08-17). "Don't Mourn, Digitize". Newsweek. Retrieved 2017-07-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Sofka, C.J. (1997). "Social support "Internetworks," caskets for sale, and more: Thanatology and the information superhighway". Death Studies. 21 (6): 553–574. doi:10.1080/074811897201778. PMID 10179827.
  5. ^ Hartelius, E. Johanna (2010). ""LEAVE A MESSAGE OF HOPE OR TRIBUTE": Digital memorializing as public deliberation". Argumentation and Advocacy. 47 (2): 67. doi:10.1080/00028533.2010.11821739. S2CID 141852521.
  6. ^ Palmer, Maija (30 August 2007). "Mourners turn to virtual shrines". Financial Times. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
  7. ^ Mitchel, Lisa M. “Death and grief on-line: Virtual memorialization and changing concepts of childhood death and parental bereavement on the Internet.” Health Sociology Review, Volume 21 No. 4 (2012). Page 424.
  8. ^ "Sacred Waste". Death Dying and Disposal 10 Conference Book of Abstracts, 2011.
  9. ^ Bell, J., Bailey, L., & Kennedy, D. (2015). ‘We do it to keep him alive’: Bereaved individuals’ experiences of online suicide memorials and continuing bonds. Mortality, 20(4), 375-389. doi:10.1080/13576275.2015.1083693. p. 386
  10. ^ Hebert, Sara. Digital Memorialization: Collective memory, tragedy, and participatory spaces. Master's Thesis, University of Denver, 2008. Page 8.
  11. ^ Cohen, F Jeremy. "Online Memorials: Grief and Ritual in the Modern Age". Newsletter of the Concordia Religion Student Association, 2014. Page 50
  12. ^ "Ashes to Ashes to. . .Vinyl? The Tech of the Afterlife". Carbon Culture Review. By Marie Becker February 1, 2015
  13. ^ a b John Herrman (15 March 2010). "What Happens (Online) When We Die: Facebook". Gizmodo. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  14. ^ Max Kelly (26 October 2009). "Memories of Friends Departed Endure on Facebook". Facebook Blog. Retrieved 19 April 2010.