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Why I Want Emailed Obituaries

Despite my Facebook network of over 400 friends, colleagues, classmates, professors, and other connections, everyone isn’t a member of the social network. I can count on many fingers the names of good friends of mine who don’t use it.

I have many acquaintances who I know fairly well but I’ve never met their parents and their friends don’t know how to reach me. If one of them dies tomorrow, how am I going to know?

Last year, I wrote about a sociology professor of mine who died nine months before I found out.

In this age of technology, surely there’s a way to get emailed an obituary, right?

The first option is through Tributes.com, an online resource for obituary news that officially launched yesterday (and also has a partnership serving classified obits to the Wall Street Journal).

Tributes.com logo

Created by Monster.com and Eons.com founder Jeff Taylor, the site enables its users to search 83 million-plus records of the Social Security Administration’s Death index and build multimedia tributes to loved ones.

Tributes.com is aligning itself with U.S. funeral homes with the anticipation that families can “more effectively capture and immortalize the artifacts, stories and sentiments that are discovered and shared at the time of a death,” according to the company’s press release.

The site also allows me to create a custom “alert” to receive an email message if a funeral home anywhere in the country posts an obituary that matches criteria of names, schools, work locations, military branches, etc.

Basically, the information that most people identify themselves with on a social network is available for obituary matching to receive a targeted email regardless if I’m home or on vacation.

I thought this was so cool — until I discovered Taylor copied the idea from decade-old Legacy.com that offers their proprietary ObitMessenger service which matches user-selected criteria with obits from over 250 newspapers.

I’m tempted to type in common keywords, say my hometown, in both notification services, and report back which provided the greatest number of results.

This is new to me, but have you tried this before? Do you receive email alerts when someone dies? Would you want to, now that you’ve read about it?