The GFR family is thrilled to have as a partner. Read the interview below to learn more about, why family is so important to them and what they do to bring families together after the passing of a loved one.

How does work? is the place where life stories live on, where the world pauses to remember a life well-lived. We believe a single life story can provide extraordinary inspiration, even after a person has died. So we champion every life knowing it can connect in unexpected and powerful ways and challenge us to live better, make a difference.

At the heart of are these life stories, including more than 20 million obituaries shared with us by our newspaper and funeral home partners. They send us their daily obits and we add useful bells and whistles like links to floral providers and charities, information about the funeral home, and our Guest Book – a place where friends and family can come together online to offer condolences, share memories, post favorite photos and videos, and read what others have written. It’s used a lot in the days and weeks after a death, as loved ones and old friends learn the news and rush to share their sympathy and offer help. And for many families, the Guest Book continues to be a source of comfort for a long time, sometimes for many years as they go back to read and re-read the stories told by friends. Some even “talk” to their deceased loved ones through the Guest Book, finding comfort in sharing stories, sentiments and the latest family news they wish they could have shared in person.

Each time someone writes in the Guest Book or submits a photo, our team reviews the submission to ensure it’s appropriate. The vast majority are 100% appropriate, but there are times when a submission can’t be posted – due to graphic content, non-family-friendly language, online spam, etc. In these cases, our team ensures that the message or photo does not go online (although we’re happy to work with the writer to edit it as needed and post it). Many families have told us how grateful they are for this review process, which allows the whole family to remember their loved one without worrying about the negativity that can go on in some online comment sections. We also provide the option for a printed, bound book of Guest Book entries for families who want a physical keepsake of the memories submitted by friends.

What are some of the most interesting stories you’ve heard? Through our Guest Books, we see people come together and connect in many different ways. A recent obituary for Clay Shephard discussed the young man’s struggle with drug addiction, sharing the story of his troubled life. The obituary was widely shared on social media, and the Guest Book has been signed by thousands. Most who wrote in the Guest Book didn’t know Clay, but many have a loved one who is addicted or died of an overdose like Clay did. The Guest Book provides them a place to share their stories with others who understand, creating a type of “family” that has been made possible by online platforms like ours. Whether a visitor is connecting with others, venting about their own situation or just offering a kind word to Clay’s parents, they are participating in a community created around their shared experiences.

We hear tragic stories, but we are also privy to heartwarming ones, such as the charming story of lifelong loves Richard and Joan Campagne. After Joan died in 2011, Richard began filling her Guest Book with detailed stories of their life together. Four years later, he still writes very regularly – sometimes talking directly to Joanie, as he calls her, sometimes relating memories: hilarious ones, touching ones, even just the simple everyday moments that make a marriage rich. Joan’s Guest Book itself is a fascinating read, but what makes us love this story even more is the way Richard has become a dear friend to our customer service team. Initially Richard had some trouble getting the hang of signing the Guest Book and adding photos (which he now does very frequently, sharing images of his and Joan’s long life together). Through his many interactions with our customer service team over the years, a bond began to be forged – he’d include a story with his email, and our representative might respond with a similar story from her own life. We’ve watched his family grow as new grandchildren are born and heard about home improvement projects he’s taken on. These friendly email exchanges were so special to Richard that he began sending the team thank-you gifts – flowers, candy, holiday decorations. They’re always warmly received – we’ve sent Richard pictures of the team enjoying the flowers and even posted the pictures on our Facebook page. The personal interaction, and our team’s willingness to treat Richard as a person, not just a customer to be dealt with and dismissed, has meant so much, both to Richard and to the team members who have gotten to know him. In Richard’s own words, “You don’t know how much it mean having (you and yours) accepting Joan and I into your family.” Richard’s friendship is important to our team members, too.

What does family mean to Family is central to Families come together after a death, gathering in person and virtually to comfort and remember. We are honored to be able to provide an online space where some of that gathering can take place. And that applies to all sorts of families – those related by blood as well as those whose only connection is the love they share.

In our early days, we were interested to find that we were becoming a resource not just for the bereaved but also for genealogists seeking out family information. As our database of obituaries has grown over the years, this use of our site has become very common. We love being a part of this research, helping to foster connections between family members, whether they’re second cousins finding each other or a new genealogist making
their first crucial discovery toward building their detailed family tree.

Any additional info that you think may be of interest to our cousins attending The Global Family Reunion? We’re global too! The team spans the world, with Legacy “cousins” in Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, as well as Chicago, LA and Boston and beyond. We’re so excited to be a part of the Global Family Reunion.

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