Sending messages from beyond the grave

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by Jay Crandall

azfamily.com

Posted on March 14, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 14 at 11:45 AM

PHOENIX -- These days, it's not hard to find services that seem to give us life after death.

Twitter is working on a way to make sure tweets continue after you have passed, searching previous tweets, to predict what you might have said were you still here. Facebook is also working on ways to let you make posts after death.

And now, a service right here in the valley is letting you deliver gifts and messages to loved ones, long after you have gone.

“I am planning on staying around for a long time,” laughs Tom Davison. But he adds, "But if something does happen, it sort of leaves you freer, I think, to know that it is taken care of. "

Davison certainly isn't planning to die anytime soon. But with the help of a service called White Owl Messaging, he is planning what he might like to say after he does pass on.

"It makes you really think of the kinds of messages you would like to leave behind," he says. “Not so much to survive your death, but just to let them know you care.”

Marianne Turner-Marken says she came up with the idea of letting people send messages or gifts through White Owl after death, when she found a letter from her own mother. "Even though it had been many years since she had passed, it still was significant and had meaning in my life.”

Through White Owl, people can arrange to send simple cards. Turner-Marken says, “They come with a message that the client has written and the client uploads a picture that goes on that card."

But, they can also upload photos or videos to be delivered in a digital frame, send flowers on special days or arrange special events.

“The person who drives their Harley motorcycle can give a gift, a last drink to their buddy.," says Turner-Marken. “Or a grandparent can send their grandchild on a trip to Disneyland for their birthday. “

You can choose the delivery day or have a guardian do it for you, according to Turner-Marken. “By attaching a guardian to the product, the client can schedule for unknown delivery dates, like a grandchild's wedding or graduation. In fact, we have one client who has a secret family recipe that he is gifting to his grandson for his wedding.“

Still, we did wonder, why do people feel the need to connect after death? So we asked Grand Canyon University psychology professor Jenna Behm-Lawton, for her thoughts.

“We have the need to get our wishes out there in some way," she tells us. "And yet at the same time, we are uncomfortable about talking about it before we die.”

She says leaving messages can help you say what you want, without actually having to face your own mortality.

And she says even sending gifts after death can be a good idea, “One of the things they talk about in grief is finding ways to keep the deceased as part of your life," she says.

She adds, if it's not done in excess, it can help with the healing process, “As long as it is done appropriately and is not overdone and it is something they turly wanted to say," she says.

Which is exacty what Davison wants: a way to make sure he doesn't leave anything unsaid.”I tell them all the time anyway,  but I would like to let them know how much I appreciate how they make life easier for me. “

Here is how it works. You set up an account one the White Owl Messaging  website, enter messages, upload pictures, choose gifts, etc. They then send you a point of service contract, which the person handling your estate sends back to them when you die.

That sets the deliveries in motion. There is a way for recipients to stop delivery if they find it offensive or painful. Prices for services range from free for e-mails on up to whatever you would like to spend.

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