Helping final thoughts take flight

Would you like to be buried or cremated? A fancy casket or a biodegradable coffin? Ashes sprinkled over the Puget Sound or launched into space? A somber church service or a party with live music?

Anna Copley

Couple’s web encourages creative funeral planning

Would you like to be buried or cremated? A fancy casket or a biodegradable coffin? Ashes sprinkled over the Puget Sound or launched into space? A somber church service or a party with live music?

These are all questions you now can answer – long before you kick the bucket – on a new Web site, www.thefuneralsite.com.

“This sort of picks up on a trend we’re seeing, how so much of a person’s life is impacted by the Web these days,” said David Johnson of Kent, who owns the online company with his wife, Anna Copley. “We’re just sort of bringing that over to the funeral-planning side of things. It’s sort of a last frontier of the Internet.”

The couple launched the site last October and now operate it full time out of their Kent home. Planning one’s own funeral is only part of the comprehensive site, which also provides tools and resources for funeral planning and one of the first online, local funeral guides in the country.

Johnson said his wife got the original idea for the site when she met an elderly woman with an unusual line of work in the industry. The woman was a “death doula,” a traditional helper for families tending to the body of a deceased member in the home, without the use of a mortician.

“It just got us thinking about the industry and what we could bring to it,” Johnson said.

Johnson worked in the software industry and his wife was a public defender, but as parents of two children, the couple always wanted to start a business were they could work from home. They saw this as a perfect opportunity.

The main site links users to providers of all funeral-related products and services and offers reading material and other types of funeral-planning tools. All the site’s features are free for users, the site generating revenue from funeral businesses who pay to be linked to its pages.

After launching in October, Johnson and Copley decided to give the site a more local focus, creating the Seattle Funeral Guide, which can be accessed on the main site or separately at www.seattlefuneralguide.com.

“As we worked through and talked to vendors, we found that there was a great need for a local-focused site,” Johnson said. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first local site in the U.S., and certainly the first in the Seattle area.”

The guide, which covers the area from Everett to Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula to North Bend, connects users with funeral resources in their own backyards.

The couple also recently added the self-planning feature, called “My Funeral,” which allows users to create a profile and guides them through questions to help them map out their own ceremony.

Users then can e-mail their final plans to family members to serve as a guide when the time comes, he said.

Another unique facet of the site is its “Go Green” feature, which outlines the increasingly popular “green funeral” and provides resources to plan an environmentally friendly funeral. The feature can be accessed through the main site or by visiting www.thegreenfuneralsite.com.

A green funeral includes practices like putting the body on dry ice instead of embalming it with chemicals, and burying the body in a simple, biodegradable casket.

The Funeral Site

Kent-based online company providing local resources for funeral planning. Visit www.thefuneralsite.com or www.seattlefuneralguide.com.

Daniel Mooney can be reached at 253-437-6012 or dmooney@reporternewspapers.com.

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