“We Remember” our loved ones

This post is about how to use the free, interactive, social, memorial platform We Remember, by Ancestry.

So, my dad died recently. It was somewhat unexpected — I mean, he wasn’t in the best of health at age 88, but he was in remission from lymphoma. And I can only hope to go as peacefully as he did, in my sleep, when it’s my turn.

If you knew him, and if this is the first time you’re hearing the news, I’m so sorry! I invite and encourage you to click over to Dad’s memorial page and post a photo or a memory. Well, maybe wait until you’ve finished reading this page. His ashes will be inurned, at some point, at Santa Fe National Cemetery, in a private family ceremony. There will be no traditional (or Zoom) funeral. His choice of a place to donate, if you so wish, appears at the end of his obituary (farewell letter), which he wrote himself and would want you to read.

I’ve learned a few things while creating and moderating his We Remember memorial page that I want to share with all of you — whether you knew him or not. I hope to make it easier for you to use the platform as a guest, as a registered member, or as the potential moderator of your own loved one’s memorial page.

“We Remember” our loved ones Share on X

Why no funeral?

In 2019, pre-COVID, I wrote a blog post called Planning my virtual funeral — who’s’ with me? It’s about why I’m not crazy about traditional funerals, and why I want to use We Remember for myself, when the time comes, instead of having a funeral. Ancestry did not create We Remember as a substitute for funerals — that was my idea. Although, this article I found includes a section called “Forgoing Funerals”, so it’s not just me thinking that way: 10 Best Online Memorial Sites: Cost, Features + Reviews.

Then COVID hit, and “virtual funeral” took on a whole new meaning. People in quarantine were forced to either forego funerals altogether or have them on Zoom (or a similar video platform). I considered trotting out my blog post at that time, but something about being forced to go virtual felt different than electing to do so, and I didn’t want to offend anyone in their time of grief. Neither did I have the wherewithal to update the post to include whatever people were now learning about virtual funerals. (Although I’d love to know what you have to say about them.)


It’s Dad-approved

I was talking about myself in that 2019 post, but if you read it, you’ll see that Dad liked the idea too. Dad is the perfect example of someone who was well-loved, but whose fan base is quite geographically spread out. He moved to Albuquerque several years ago, to be near me and my brother Mike (the oldest of my three younger brothers). But his advancing age and declining health precluded his being very active and making very many new friends here. He never established a church community here, either. He had previously called Boise, Idaho his home, for nearly 50 years. The We Remember platform allows everyone from his former church community, high school and seminary chums, art club and book club members, Facebook community, and favorite Starbucks baristas to participate in sharing memories of him with one another. Family and friends will have the comfort of revisiting everyone’s photos and stories in years to come on We Remember.

How to use the site

It’s easy to get started as memorial creator. Just click here.

If you only want to see Dad’s page, click here. I seeded it with his own self-written obituary, some photos of his life, a gallery of his artwork, and a YouTube link to his favorite song. Then I shared the We Remember link to Facebook. There’s a handy share button right on the page. This made sense for Dad, because he enjoyed interacting daily with his Facebook friends. If your loved one was not a Facebook user, you can share the link to wherever else you deem appropriate, or send email invitations through the site. I posted it to his profile, tagging myself and certain other family members in the post itself. This was so it would show up on each of our profiles/timelines/walls too. (Tagging them in a comment would merely have alerted them to the post on my account. It didn’t work for Mike, though, and we haven’t yet figured out why not.)

People who did not know Dad have left lovely comments of support for me and my family on Facebook, which we appreciate very much. People who did know him have also left lovely comments there. However, many of my family members are not on Facebook, and will only see comments if they are also, or instead, posted on We Remember. So, be prepared, if you are moderating a memorial, for people to not follow directions, and to help them out if they are hesitant to use a new-to-them technology platform.

Registering is optional but beneficial

You don’t need to join We Remember (even in Guest Mode) in order to read memorial pages. (Well, it depends on your settings. Check “Manage Guest & Memories” under “Memorial Settings”. Everything can also be as private as you like, and require registration to participate.)

In Guest Mode you can post a memory, but you’ll be missing out on some of the benefits of joining/registering/signing in.

One of the several benefits of joining/registering/signing in, is that you will be notified when new memories are added to the page. (This may be more important to family members than to friends.) Another is that you can go back and edit your post if you want to, refine your relationship status, or add a photo to your profile.

Here are more details about Signing In, Accounts, and Profile.

And here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.

<– Don’t be scared off if you see this image. It’s just We Remember giving you easy ways to join/register/sign in. If you already have an Ancestry, or Google, or Facebook, or Apple account — which covers most people — there is no harm in clicking one of them as a way to access We Remember.

Remember to scroll down!

Several people have told me they loved the obituary my dad wrote for himself. (He was very organized and left detailed instructions, too!)

When I asked if they’d seen the photos I had posted to start things off with, they said no, they hadn’t. I think there are a variety of reasons for this, but the main reason seems to be that they didn’t realize there was more to see and didn’t scroll down.

Also, it’s social — you can “like” and comment on other posts just like you can on other social media platforms.


Look for the fine print options

It’s meant to be easy, but some of the instructions are tiny and the fonts are light-colored.

So, you may have options that you’ll miss if you don’t know to look for them.

The site looks good on one’s phone, but it’s easier to see all your options on a computer screen. You may need to enlarge it to see everything.

For example, you may see a question to answer. But it isn’t your only choice! It’s just a suggestion. You can click “Next” to see a different question. Or, click “View All” to see all the suggested questions. You can even “Add” your own question!

Click “Add Memory” to see additional options for sharing.


Your turn

Have you seen a We Remember memorial page before?

Do you have any tips to add for using the site?

Would you consider using this platform to memorialize a loved one?

What experience have you had with virtual funerals during COVID?

Please share with us in the comments!

Copyright 2021 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.



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  1. Peg on October 3, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Well done Hazel. Know this is what your Dad would want.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 4, 2021 at 7:09 am

      Thanks, Peg. That means a lot coming from you, having known him longer than most!

  2. Megan Spears on October 4, 2021 at 9:55 am

    Hazel, I am so sorry for your loss. I can see where your gift with words started. What a neat guy and such a full life. I too have wishes for a peaceful exit.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 4, 2021 at 11:30 am

      Thank you, Megan!

  3. Sabrina Quairoli on October 4, 2021 at 11:03 am

    So Sorry for your loss, Hazel! What a lovely memorial. Thanks for the idea.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 4, 2021 at 11:29 am

      Thank you, Sabrina!

  4. Seana Turner on October 4, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Hazel. No one replaces your Dad, and I’m sure you are missing him terribly. What a wonderful gift to turn this rough season of your life into an opportunity to bless others who may be in a similar place. I think this is a wonderful idea, and one to discuss while others are still alive so they can weigh in. I feel the funeral/memorial service is typically for those who are still around and want to honor the person and share stories. We can do that many ways, and especially if your friends and family are spread out across the globe, this is better than a service where only a small portion of loved ones can attend.

    Sending you hugs and giving thanks for your Dad, who clearly was a great man!

    • Hazel Thornton on October 6, 2021 at 7:27 am

      Thank you, Seana! Yes, if nothing else, discuss or document your wishes before you die. If you don’t care what happens after you die, make sure people know that, too, so they don’t feel guilty about whatever they end up doing.

  5. Linda Samuels on October 4, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    What a beautiful way to honor your Dad! And it sounds like he would have been so happy to see all of the wonderful stories and photos. I’m sure they will bring you and your family much comfort for years to come.

    Sending you extra love, hugs, and my deepest sympathy for your loss.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 6, 2021 at 7:24 am

      Thank you, Linda!

  6. Diane N Quintana on October 6, 2021 at 7:05 am

    Hazel, I’m so sorry about your father. Thank you for sharing this post. It’s lovely that you know this is what your father wanted. I’m happy to know about this option myself because I’ve lived in so many places and my family is spread out across the United States. It may make it easier for all of us to gather (virtually) to share our thoughts. Something to consider for sure.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 6, 2021 at 7:26 am

      You can start your own memorial page, like I did. Why not? Just make sure someone’s got your login info for continuing it later.

  7. Julie Bestry on October 8, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    You and I have privately discussed your Dad, so I’ll discuss the We Remember platform. I think a lot of people will feel relieved that you referenced the pitfalls; in mourning, it might be overwhelming to have to monitor social media platforms as well as the We Remember platform. Maybe nominating a tech-friendly cousin, one less constrained by grief, would be a good option for some families, while others might be satisfied by added a line on social media to the effect of, “Please go to We Remember to share your thoughts and be sure to scroll through to look at photos of Great-Grandma” or whatever.

    You always do a great job of giving the big picture on websites and apps, and I know many people will be comforted by you having done this legwork.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 19, 2021 at 9:03 am

      Thanks, Julie! And YES to choosing someone who has the wherewithal to do it, same for any technology in the realm of end-of-life matters. Someone who can access and make use of LastPass. Someone to send a last newsletter via Constant Contact. Someone to maintain or close one’s website. (Etc.) And they (for me) will not be all the same person, either. If my family were more tech savvy we could do as you suggest in Cross-Training for Families!

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