A Community Memorial to Celebrate and Create Memories, Not Condolences

01 May 2020 - Tracey Wallace

Welcome

We are so excited to bring you an amazing conversation with Ali Briggs, the CEO of LifeWeb 360. LifeWeb 360 is a memorial company, of sorts, that makes scrapbooks, memorials and legacy projects out of people’s lives.

This kind of work is so incredibly important to helping families grieve their loss, and to have a tool that helps communities gather is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the conversation below, or read through the transcript right after it.

Dani: Ali, if you could introduce yourself, that would be amazing.

Ali Briggs: Of course! Super, super excited to be here! I love what Eterneva does.

I love everything that your brand stands for, and I’m super excited because at our core we’re trying to do the same thing.

I know you’re all about celebrating remarkable people. We’re about keeping people’s memories alive, preserving the communities around a family that has lost someone –– really the community of people that love that person –– and capturing the person’s essence in the process.

For us, it’s all about their life and not about their death. It’s about the things that made them unique. That’s what we aim to capture.

Dani: What does your company do?

Ali: I run LifeWeb360 and Memorial Scrapbooks Built By Your Friends and Family.

What we do is make it really easy for friends and relatives to share stories and photos of somebody that’s passed away.

And then we organize them on our digital platform in different ways, by theme of life or into an interactive Word Cloud. The Word Cloud is really cool, too, in that it’s getting at the heart of and the essence of the person.

Then, when the immediate family is ready, they can come back to this really beautiful gift that’s been created by that entire community.

And finally, we can actually engage with the community who created the page and remind them to keep checking in on the family over time. You can opt into notifications for things like reminders on key dates to check in with the family, for instance. We have lots of resources and ideas that we send out to them, too.

Everything that we do is in service of really keeping memories alive and keeping that community together to celebrate and remember that person.

Dani: Do y’all work closely with folks on funerals or celebrations of life?

Ali: One of the things that we like to think our product is doing is not replacing in-person gatherings when it’s safe to have in-person gatherings, but really extending them.

That is, extending the wake, extending that story sharing and that coming together to support each other. Memories come up all the time, and things happen that remind you of that person. It’s wonderful to be able to share that with the family when that happens –– and you can’t do that if you only have a wake and then stop talking about it.

Families love to hear a new story about their loved ones. A funny thing that their person said, a photo that they’d never seen before.

Taking all of that beautiful stuff that happens at a funeral reception or a wake and saying, “Why does it need to stop there? Why can’t we continue building on this person’s story over time?”

It’s also about letting that whole community know it’s okay to say that person’s name. It’s not going to make the family sad. They’re happy that you remember their person!

There’s just such a tremendous educational component here, and there are so many people in the end of life space –– many of whom you’ve had on Eterneva Live! –– and they are all so passionate about this education around death and grief.

There is so much great work being done to educate people on how we can all get through a loss together. And that it’s not necessarily something to move through, but something that stays with you. And that’s OK! It’s OK for that person to stay with you over time.

Dani: How have you really seen this benefit families that go through this type of experience?

Ali: That’s definitely the best part of my job: seeing that real benefit for folks.

We’re only working with people that have lost somebody that’s very important to them. And so that’s hard. But at the same time, we can’t change the fact that their person passed away. We can’t change that they died.

We can change how they can continue remembering and make that part easier.

What we’ve seen for a lot of families is the power of seeing a new photo, or hearing a new story. That’s really as close as possible to a new memory for them.

Maybe it’s something silly they said at the water cooler and it’s a colleague that shares it. It’s not necessarily a memory, it’s just something funny that they said that stuck with them and you can hear them in that story. Families will say, “Oh, that’s so them!”

That’s really powerful.

Another thing that has been really cool to see is when people are sharing written memories where we’re pulling out adjectives, keywords, their favorite things, places that were important to them.

What you end up with is this composite picture of how they showed up in the world and how other people saw them. It’s very specific to the person.

That’s really powerful because it shows the family that other people really saw their person and saw the things that made them who they were.

It wasn’t just the family that knew they were hilarious or made the best beef stew or whatever it is. Other people recognized these really specific talents and characteristics! It’s validating for families, and comforting.

These word clouds also trigger new memories.

Thrift stores! That was the word that came up recently and one of our families said, “Oh my gosh, yes. Thrift stores! They loved thrift stores! They dragged me into every thrift store that we passed. I have so many used Hawaiian shirts as a result!”

It’s cool to see that jog people’s memories and bring up these really joyous and happy feelings.

Dani: How do these memories help families in the grieving process?

Ali: Well, and I think it’s two parts.

First, I think it’s the learning. There’s that, “Oh, other people saw that this person loved thrift stores, and I knew they loved thrift stores. And this person said they loved Madonna. I had no idea they loved Madonna!”

Or, “Oh my gosh, my grandma did what when she was a kid?”

Those are the things that are really cool. And that’s where the 360 in our name comes from. We’re LifeWeb 360.

And that’s the second part, this idea of this 360 degree memory of the person. After all, who you are is who you are to all the people that knew you in different ways.

One of the things that comes up a lot is folks tell us: “Oh my gosh, I wish I would’ve known all of this about this person while they were still here!”

Dani: You don’t describe LifeWeb 360 as a social media tool. It’s an “empathetic technology” tool. Can you talk about that?

Ali: 100%! We’re all about trying to squeeze everything out of the phrase “empathetic technology.” Let’s get all the juice!

I feel like social media gets such a bad rap. We call ourselves, instead of a social media platform, a social memory platform.

And we do things a little bit differently to create a really empathetic experience where technology is used to help and to bring people together.

Things like every memory that’s shared on our platform is reviewed by our creation team, for instance. And we’ve yet to have an issue, but we’re so sensitive to something that would upset people that are going through one of the hardest times in their life that that’s something we feel is a really important added step to take –– curating the memories.

Something we hear a lot from people around if they would like to share something on Facebook when someone passes away, is they’re really concerned about how they’ll be perceived. For instance, maybe they hadn’t seen the person in a while, but they have a cool memory of them, but are afraid to share because they don’t want to be seen as drawing attention to themselves.

The way that we have our website set up is that you can look at memories based on life stage. So, if you haven’t seen them since childhood, that’s OK!

There’s a spot for your memories, even if it’s a small one.

We have a lot of thoughtful employees, interns and advisors that have informed the design of our product and the psychology. There’s a lot that’s been written by really talented academics on grieving online. All of that has informed the last year of our research and product development.

Dani: Could you show us a bit of the product?

Ali: Absolutely!

So what I’m going to show you is an example LifeWeb. We’re going to be really mindful of the privacy of our families and cultivating that community of people that knew and love the person that passed.

So, I’m going to show you an example which won’t give you the full power of the real families on our platform, but it’ll show you the functionality.

OK –– so this is a LifeWeb page, a “LifeWeb.”

We have a little bit of a new thing right now. During COVID, a lot of people, as you know, are having virtual funerals and virtual memorial services, so we’ve got some added features in here if you want to embed a zoom link, for instance.

I know you had Christina from New Narrative on last week and we had the best time working together last month creating some guides for families, funeral directors and other funeral professionals on virtual memorials.

That’s a whole separate thing, but important for everyone to learn and understand!

Dani: That Word Cloud is so beautiful!

Ali: Yeah, so if you click deviled eggs, here’s all the memories that we have on here that mentioned deviled eggs. So there’s two. They must’ve been some delicious eggs!

Another thing you can do is explore by themes.

So, if you clicked on family, for example, same thing, it would filter the memories in that way. These are either memories from family members of Janice, our fictitious example person, or they’re about her family.

Let’s go back to the main page. You’ll see that we have photos, written memories, and then you’ll see these quote cards. I really like these because they’re the snippets of memories. These are coming from different memories. And they’re a nice snapshot, similar to the Word Cloud. Or you could read through the entire memory that they came from.

If families would like, they can send us a Spotify playlist that we embed. I really love that because I think there’s a tendency to be concerned about if this page is going to be really sad. But the music that people are putting on these Spotify playlists, it’s the person’s jams! It’s what they loved to listen to.

So it’s definitely all in the spirit of how do we make this really feel like the spirit of the person. The brand is not meant to be LifeWeb, the brand is meant to be Janice.

Finally, if you share a memory, we have a lot of options. You can just email a memory, which makes it easier for people comfortable with that medium. You can also just write a memory, or you can audio record up to three minutes, or you can add photos.

We ask how you knew the person, which helps us with creating the life scene chapters of our digital scrapbook.

And then you can opt into information on future memorial events and tributes. This is super important right now as most families are having something immediate and then they’re having a larger celebration of life in the future.

There are also reminders of important dates to check in with the family, and then ideas from our team on ways to celebrate a loved one or support a grieving friend.

Dani: This is almost teaching people a new skill, on how to keep talking about them. You are giving people the language.

Ali: I haven’t heard it described in that way, but I love that though: giving people the language.

People are afraid, I think, of things that are blank. And if you think about sending a sympathy card to someone that can be really tough. What do you write?

So, a lot of sympathy messages end up being, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I’m here for you.” And that’s so important, but it isn’t enough.

What we’re trying to do is in addition to that create a spot where even if the family’s not ready to hear a really happy memory, we can capture it and preserve it.

It’s something that years later they might not want to go back to sympathy messages, but rather go back to the memories.

I think both of our companies are really focused on how to capture the light and beauty of the person. With you all, it’s through diamonds and letting that person continue to shine. With us, it’s a LifeWeb.

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