Media & Press Archive

‘A Place To Remember’

Charity Spotlight in Funeral Service Times – September 2007

A place to remember

The charity, MuchLoved, leads the way in offering personalised website memorials in memory of loved ones who have passed away

The background to the charity

In 1995, MuchLoved Founder, Jonathan Davies, received a call that everyone fears. His younger brother, Philip, a law student at Birmingham University, had been found dead by fellow students in bed in his digs. Jonathan was suddenly thrown into a long and tumultuous period of grief as he struggled to come to terms with his brother’s death and as part of this he tried to create a memorial website in Phil’s name; “I felt it would have helped me personally enormously in my grieving and also in enabling contact and mutual support from the wide group of School and University friends who knew and loved Phil”

Jonathan found however there was no appropriate website service available – “they were either prohibitively expensive, quite basic or in some cases simply tasteless” – and so he set about designing his own. Whilst many technical challenges lay ahead, Jonathan says that the most important decision taken was the initial one regarding the ethos of his website service; “In order to create something that had a really positive impact in grieving and healing, it had to focus on the needs of the bereaved person and their desire to express many things from grief and anger through to commemoration and pride. It followed that this had to be a charitable organisation as a means of helping people, rather than making profits”

The benefits of a website memorial service

If created sensitively, this new type of memorial can have a number of benefits. There are no geographical or time constraints – family living far away can share their memories in one place and ‘visit& whenever they want, unbound by closing times or transport requirements. Jonathan recounted that after his brother died he remembered climbing over the fence of the graveyard one evening in order to visit his grave “It may have been a reaction to the idea of the cemetery gates closing shut at dusk, or maybe the need I had at a particular time, regardless of whether it was day or night, to connect with him.”

And while there can be words of remembrance and photographs, favourite songs or video clips can be added to illustrate and bring each particular memory to life. In this way, many chapters of stories, recollections, thoughts and life events can be built up to create a really special memorial and legacy.

An additional benefit that is sometimes overlooked is the way in which a memorial website can bring those affected by the death closer together by encouraging support and conversation. It is very easy to all feel compelled to ‘stop talking about it& once the funeral has taken place when successful grieving normally requires a much longer period of active remembering. A memorial website where friends and family can all contribute their pictures, tell their stories or express their feelings of loss can help everyone manage their grief together.

The process to create a memorial

In order to make the service accessible to everyone it is key to keep it simple and so no computer programming or website experience is needed to create a memorial. People wanting to set one up just need to visit www.muchloved.com where there is a simple 5 step process to follow, taking just a few minutes, and then they can view and share their website immediately.

All memorials are given a unique web address to keep. For example a website to Jack Smith might be jacksmith.muchloved.com, but users can select their own name to use (such as a nickname) if they prefer.

After this initial creation process, users can then add information or make changes to it continually including the designs and appearance. Jonathan adds that with MuchLoved “We want the website to look beautiful, regardless of what information or how much is added. Likewise, there are not, and never will be, any adverts or promotional material added to a website, ever. It is a personal site.”

Addressing security and access concerns

As a website memorial is a personal expression of feelings and memories, MuchLoved understand that it is fundamentally important to give their users the ability to set the level of privacy they need.

Jonathan explains that some want a private website whilst others want a public access one and so their service needed to be able to respond to these different wishes by being able to control who can visit, what visitors can view and what they can contribute.

As a result, when a MuchLoved website is first created, no one else has access to view or make changes. It is left for the Tribute Guardian to invite friends and family when and if they are ready to do so, using an ‘Invite Manager& which is provided. So whilst public access can be enabled, this is not done automatically.

As well as deciding who has access to view their website, the Tribute Guardian can also decide to review all visitor contributions first, before they are added to their site, so that there is no concern over receiving unwanted postings. They can even request an email alert to be sent to them whenever a new contribution has been made!

Providing funeral details and fundraising for a chosen charity

A large number of MuchLoved websites are being created in the immediate aftermath of a death and as a result are often used to provide details about the funeral and then afterwards to record poems and readings chosen for the service. The website address has in some cases even been printed on the order of service.

MuchLoved have also developed an option to accept In Memoriam donations from website visitors to a chosen charity, an option that is increasing in popularity as an alternative to the tradition of sending funeral flowers.

Trying to do something positive in the wake of a bereavement by raising money for good causes is an area that MuchLoved are working to help support and they now have a growing network of charity partners including Grief Encounter, The Compassionate Friends, Support after Murder ‘ Manslaughter, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide and Sands (Stillbirth ‘ neonatal death charity).

Hosting services and costs

In order to be able to keep a beautiful lasting record and legacy for both present and future generations, MuchLoved hosts all websites so that they are always online whenever people want to visit over the days, months and years after a loss. In order to ensure long term reliable hosting, MuchLoved uses the services of The Data Trust, a not for profit company established for the purposes of long-term hosting of content meant for publication on the internet.

This Summer, a free ten-year hosting option was also launched, funded by charitable donations, so that all bereaved people are now able to create and keep a website memorial, regardless of their financial position.

To find out more about MuchLoved, please visit www.muchloved.com or email support@muchloved.com To visit their online bereavement community please go to www.muchloved.com/community