Memorials for the Recently Deceased

Update: Thank you to everyone for you comments and thoughts on this issue. We read all them and really appreciate the different perspective each of you brings to the conversation. We know there isn’t a perfect solution, but we appreciate your insights and will use them to refine our plans.

We occasionally hear from people who have have lost a loved one and, when they are ready, they go to Find A Grave to create a memorial for them and find that there is already one there. Many aren’t sure how to go about having the memorial transferred to them or the memorial manager is unresponsive which can make a challenging time more difficult.

It’s an unusual case, and we need to be balanced in our response to it, but we’d like to find a way to make this experience better.

Below is a rough outline of one idea we had. We’d love to hear what you think about this idea or any other ideas you have in the comments on this page.

Thanks!


When someone creates a memorial for someone who has died within the past year we would ask for their relationship. (One year is a starting point, but we’d be curious to hear your opinion on how long this time should be.)

If the person creating the page is not related within our transfer guidelines (this is currently direct line relatives within 4 generations, but we’d appreciate your thoughts on this too), we would let them know that the memorial will be in a provisional state and that if a family member would like to claim it, we will transfer it to them.

Once the memorial is created, it would look like any other memorial, but we would add some messaging to let family members know they can claim the page. (What message do you think would be appropriate?)

Next we would ask them how they are related. If the relationship is within the guidelines they would go to the next step. If they are not related within the guidelines, we would let them know that we only automatically transfer memorials to people within those guidelines and that they can contact the page manager to request a transfer and tell them how to do that.

To continue with the transfer they would need to sign in or create an account and if they don’t already manage other pages, we would give them a quick run down of what that entails.

Once they were signed in we would transfer the memorial to them and ask if they would like the page to continue to say “Created by [original creator]” or not. If they say no, we would remove the reference to the original creator and just say, “Managed by [new person].”

266 comments

  1. I think there are some good ideas here, but also some I don’t like. Leave the statistics, but I’m glad you removed (or hid) the scoreboard page or whatever you call the one that lists the people that have the most. I have over 10k memorials so some might consider me a collector. However I have over 20k photos, so most of the ones I make, it’s because I took the gravestone photo. The MAIN problem is people that won’t transfer. The SECOND problem is people who don’t know how to use the EDIT to ask for a transfer. People think if their messages are closed, they can’t ask for a transfer. I do think a 2- to 4-week period for a memorial in waiting would be good. So then if no relative claims it, the original poster manages it. I do create memorials once they are public; that way I don’t forget to do it later, but only for people who live in my area (many of whom I know or know their family). I have spent countless volunteer hours with this web site for the last 17+ years. It’s a valuable resource. I love walking the cemeteries and trying to “complete” the ones in my area. I literally will walk cemeteries anywhere. Some people aren’t physically able to do this anymore. Most of the people on Findagrave I work with are very nice, even the “collectors”. A couple have found me “rude”, and most of the time I am not. It’s hard to tell tone online. This issue is just one I feel close to. I am trying to help families, and I would hope most of the “collectors” are.

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  2. “Respect” is the keyword!

    A 6 month waiting period to allow a family to grieve and a chance to create the memorial. Too many unrelated people creating from obituaries.

    Look at account suspension for x amount time with longer periods for repeat violations.

    Amassing numbers is not the problem, lack of respect is. I’ve created over 8000 memorials in 2-1/2 years, but always willing to transfer upon request. My “rush” comes from the many thank you’s I receive.

    Even while mowing the rows and coming across a recent burial I’ll store picture for at least six months before looking at creating a memorial.

    RESPECT

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  3. This is getting old. Once again, let’s see if this posts. I don’t care when memorials are created as long as the creators transfer them upon request. I do not like that FindAGrave allows copy and paste of obituaries and death notices. This is often a copyright violation, and it is plagiarism when the creator doesn’t list the source. Write a brief bio in your own words. If you cannot do this then just create the basic memorial, bios are not required. Quit allowing photos taken by others to be posted without permission.

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  4. I would like the family members to be able to have up to a year to post about their loved one. As someone with a father who recently passed away, I certainly wasn’t ready to do anything close to posting about it on FAG before 6 months was up. The person who created my father’s post walks the Cemetery once a week to collect info on new additions. That was WAY too soon for me. Also, I am not able to figure out how to request possession of it.

    I would like family to always have the right to claim possession of a post of their loved one, rather than a stranger holding onto it like a prize and refusing to release it.

    Thank you for considering changing your rules.

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  5. Numbers are not the problem. It’s non relatives creating entries before the body is in the ground, family notified or grieved. A moratorium of 2-3 months is appropriate unless close (3gen) family. Then make it much easier for edits and transfers. Many finding their loved ones are not routine findagrave users. Simplify, simplify. Do not permit death certificates, obituaries without citation or names of the living family. Otherwise, the site is a wonderful service for family history and I have found so much due to the generosity of contributors.

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  6. This One Year rule is just an accident waiting to happen. I was of the opinion that Find A Grave was an online cemetery listing. As someone stated, it is not a monument, it is a listing by cemetery of its interments’ final resting place. This isn’t a Family Tree mechanism like some people want to make it. In my part of the world, there are not large numbers of contributors because no one wants to give their time – especially the younger generation or those who just are not interested. Internet is not a luxury in rural areas. This would bring the system down to a crawl if when you heard of a death of a friend or distant relative, you could not add a memorial for a year. Everyone has a Mother and a Father so where do you draw the line? I add memorials for my church cemetery which is family (numerous cousins because of my large family) and friends. Also after a few days, obits are not readily available and the funeral home web site listing is not a permanent fixture. What happens when a grave isn’t marked and you have no idea who is buried there? What about the last surviving member of a family who is left without children? What happens to full cemetery transcriptions? (I have photographed and listed several). This waiting period scenario requires too much time for a volunteer, plus the fact of knowing who passed in a predetermined time frame. Jumping through hoops isn’t the name of the game. Please don’t kill the messengers. We volunteer to make this site what it is and not to purposely hurt a person’s feelings. I presently have over 21,000 memorials of which many are due to taking an inactive or deceased contributor’s memorials for editing and conservation sake. However, most of my memorials were from days of walking a cemetery recording data and photographing well over 27,000 in some not so pleasant conditions. That call, text, email or personal Thank You is my reward for this contribution. Why does this put me and other contributors on the hot seat for following the guidelines and fulfilling the stated purpose?

    I agree to transfer to the next of kin within four generations. I also agree with transferring to close family outside of the four generations. I do not transfer if this person is my family. I even agree to transferring close friends if they don’t have family as contributors. Someone mentioned a button to note the kinship for this transfer reference. If a memorial has been added and family is requesting a transfer, this button should then automatically notify the FAG edit professional who can transfer the memorial with no questions asked with a 30 day time frame. But again, how can you be assured of the truth, you cannot, FAG cannot and I cannot. This is a sensitive and difficult problem to handle, but not at the expense of the family, community, churches, extended family and friends. By the way, I have lost my spouse, both parents, my only sibling and have no children and lastly my best friend, so my comments are based on personal experience. Remember no two people deal with grief in the same manner.

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  7. Respect and privacy are important to all, especially at a time of mourning. A minimum of a month would be appropriate before posting photographs of a new grave marker. That first month after a death is incredibly difficult and busy, with all sorts of business that must be contracted while dealing with the emotions of the loss. Frankly, I am offended when I find Ancestry contributors have posted things about ME – I am alive and they OUGHT to ask me first. I suggest family probably feels the saem way.

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  8. Yes, there needs to be a change and I think a year is a reasonable time. Several years after their death, when I went to transfer our parent’s memorials, it was so frustrating. One only took about 2 weeks (which still seemed to be a long time) and the other was a couple of months as we had to engage Find A Grave. All 3 memorials then required corrections and updates. I think you should also remove the # of memorials a person has created as that only leads to competitiveness between creators. Those who are doing this for altruistic reasons don’t need those “look at me” numbers showcased. Also, shorten the time frame for a response and transfer before an escalation can be requested. Your programmers can identify frequent users so their time frames for transfer should be shortened accordingly. I implore you to roll out these changes as soon as possible. Thank you.

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  9. I do believe if there is a lengthy wait that a person may never have a memorial page. A lot of times we have intentions of going back and doing one and then it never happens. If a family member is going to make a memorial they will do it, but there are a lot of people that have never heard of Find A Grave and would never know that their loved one had a memorial or not.
    Yes I do believe in a waiting period but 6 months to a year is way out there and may completely be forgotten. Myself I go to old cemeteries and work from those. The only recent ones that I do are my family and very, very close friends and most times someone else has already done them.
    I would like to see a month to three month waiting period.

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  10. I had this with problem with my dad. Just a week after he died I went to put it in and it was already in. Obituary copied word for word and pics of him included. He hated the internet and this made me very mad. I contacted and they did immediately transfer it. After my mom died a little over a year later, the might of the day she died I put it in so no one else could have. I think a waiting period is a good thing.

    Anothe issue I have is when some one will not listed to an update on their person. I had been looking for a very long time.for my 3x great grandfather and because of wrong info walked wrong Cemetery, but I knew where his wife was and we finally found Cemetery and he is buried alongside her with a military stone with troop info etc. And if u look it up it is my 3x great grandfather’s info, yet the women who is managing this page has him listed as being born in Norway, he was born in Pennsylvania. The family name was Peterson but it used to be Sutton, the Sutton’s fought and supported the British in Revolutionary war. Fa.ilybwas from New jersey l. Had been in this country for a long time. But she ignored my efforts to correct it. I had the page from the lady that had wron info so I changed it to the correct one and somehow she had that page deleted. I want my families info to be correct and this irks me so much.

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  11. First of all, to create a memorial for someone before they are even in the ground is disrespectful to the family. I think a minimum waiting period for a stranger is appropriate. Perhaps 6 months. The family should always have the option of immediately transferring the family member to the family. The wishes of the family are always deserving of respect.

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    • Yes, the day before my mother’s funeral I found another volunteer had added her. I have not yet asked for a transfer as I have been too busy with my siblings getting things settled and driving to and from where she resided at the time of her death to post a memorial, even a “bare bones” one. I think there should definitely be some sort of waiting period to give relatives time to do so.

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  12. This is a tough question. My father’s obituary and photo were on FAG before we had him in the ground, courtesy of a collector who pulled every obituary in town the day it was published and set up memorials. I do believe that a minimum of 90 days before a memorial could be created is reasonable. Since most obituaries are available online, it isn’t necessary to do it sooner than 90 days after death.

    I like the idea that you could have a button that states “Related” or Not Related” when the memorial is created. Then if someone requests a transfer and states their relationship, the Non Related manager would be required to turn it over upon request. It is much like the current rules within 4 generations.

    I think we should also consider that some family members (living people) may not want their information published online on a site such as FAG. A memorial could be created in a customized manner to take their wishes into consideration. But only real family members would be aware of this situation.

    There should be no record of the # of memorials created. That has nothing to do with the validity of the information . I would still contribute information regardless, as would many others.

    I do believe that a photo should be included, even if it is only the mausoleum plaque. Again, that usually doesn’t happen before 90 days after death. I currently have a dispute with a contributor who has listed ggg grandparents in a cemetery where they aren’t buried. Based on his FAG information, I went 6 states over to the cemetery, only to learn from cemetery officials that the cemetery didn’t exist when the ancestors died. Of course, there is no picture of headstones on FAG {BIG RED FLAG!} and the contributor is non – responsive.
    If the headstones are in bad condition, then a cemetery abstract done by a third party could be listed as the source of the burial.

    I’m sure I will have additional thoughts and I am interested in seeing how others would solve these issues.

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  13. I completely agree with NOT allowing F-A-G postings for people who have not even been buried yet. Like previous postings, my mother’s name and details appeared on F-A-G in 2017 even before she was buried — info clearly just taken from a local obituary, not from any cemetery search. Give us a break! No one, NO ONE, needs to have this information publicized that quickly. And this person obviously never visited the cemetery: no photos and no names for other people buried in same plot or listed on the headstone. This type of information is not helpful to anyone, so just stop it!

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  14. Six months to a year is way too long, the memorial might be overlooked and forgotten that far out. I say give the family a month. Or track the obit jumpers activity. I can give you the names of the obit jumpers around here! The whole purpose is for everyone to be documented! I am very active in a cemetery association and add people from the cemetery when needed. I usually find that one of the obit jumpers already added the person and it’s irritating but the bottom line is the person was added.
    I think if a burial is added less than a month from the death an option of some sort should be available that would go directly to FAG for a transfer to a family member.

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  15. I was in no way ready to add my mother to FAG, but there were people who added obituaries from the funeral home and from the cemetery where she was eventually to have her ashes interred. To make sure I did get to be the one who entered her, I first entered a memorial that listed her as cremated in Georgia, then changed it after we buried her ashes 3 months later.
    She died a month after my son-in-law committed suicide, so FAG was the last thing on my families minds at the time. A year does not seem like a horribly long time to wait to me.
    I’ve been a member since before there was a transfer button. Back then we deleted our memorial so family members could enter their own memorial for loved ones. Find a Grave was a much nicer site to be involved with back in those days.
    Absolutely, give family members the choice of not having another contributors name on their family member’s memorial.

    And please, stop giving a members memorials to another member. It really makes us have no desire to walk cemeteries, fulfill photo requests, add photos or offer additions and corrections.

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  16. I think that allowing at least six months to a year for a family member to take over management of a recently deceased family member is fair. I also think that if a non-family person created the memorial that a close family member should be able to claim management even after that year. After a year though, the family should have no say in removing the creator’s name.

    I also think that if memorials are created seven days or less from the death date, that the memorial should be put in a pending status. This should give family adequate time to notify kin before a memorial appears.

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  17. Things certainly need to change. While there are some WONDERFUL people out there who genuinely want to help others, creating a memorial page for a complete stranger before that person is even buried/cremated is totally not on. When my mother died (in Australia) we placed a death notice in local and state newspapers. Within 2 HOURS of publication someone in America had created a memorial page for her. We had not even finalised funeral arrangements. To make matters worse the memorial page creator made mistakes on their page.
    There truly needs to be a time period – be it a month, 3 months, 6 months – where only immediate family can create a memorial. Once that time has passed, then others can step in, as long as the page can be easily transferred to family later. I would be happy to still give credit to the creator as long as family could take ownership of the page and correct any errors.
    Please respect grieving families – everyone mourns in their own way and any action that adds to their grief should be prevented if possible. But at the same time – a huge thank you to all the helpful people out there on Find a Grave who have visited cemeteries in which I have family buried that I cannot visit personally and uploaded photos. Your help is much appreciated.

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  18. My Mom passed away on July 31. Her Funeral/Burial was on August 5. I am her oldest child and was finally ready to add her death date to my Ancestry Family Tree on August 8. (I am the ‘Genealogy Person’ in my Family). When I immediately saw the Find-a-Grave hint I was stunned to see that her Obit was already there and posted BEFORE she was even buried, by someone that I didn’t know. The person that did this is obviously someone who searches obits in the paper and posts them before anyone else has a chance. That person doesn’t accept messages – why is that even allowed??? Our Mom and Our Family deserve the respect to create our OWN Memorial to OUR Mother, not just a copy of the Obituary in the Paper.. **PLEASE issue a moratorium of AT LEAST 6 months on creating Memorials UNLESS it’s an immediate Family Member that is creating the Memorial. **PLEASE REQUIRE that anyone who posts a Memorial identifies their relationship to the Deceased (ie: Immediate Family, No Family Connection, etc). **PLEASE REQUIRE that a transfer to an immediate Family Member will be made if requested (and verified by Find-A-Grave-if necessary). I sincerely appreciate all of the volunteers that contribute to Find-A-Grave, but I really think that ONLY OUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY should be given an opportunity to remember OUR Mom within a reasonable time-frame. Thank You.

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  19. I would just like to see a 1 – 3 month waiting period so families can grieve, and then if they are part of the Find A Grave Community they can add. After that the site is what it is – a repository of graves. What I would like to see is more oversight on Obituaries copied word for for with living relatives and personal info.

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  20. Thank you for listening. The waiting period and automatic transfer upon request from those in the immediate family are good. One other thing – no posts should go up at all for at least a month after the death unless posted by immediate family, and by that I mean within two degrees. It would be a tremendous additional blow to find a memorial created for one’s spouse, sibling, parent, child before the memorial service was over, to say nothing of those who might find out from fibdagrave because no one has managed to get hold of them. For those of us who do not have immediate burial as a religious requirement, the memorial service may be postponed many weeks to allow the gathering and informing of family. Find a grave memorials are not going to be the first thing on a to do list of the bereaved.

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