Introducing Sunsetting.co, & Why It’s Time for Tech to Disrupt Death
I never (ever) imagined that I would end up in my 30’s with two of my parents dead, or that I would be inspired (and excited of all things) to launch a business that deals with death — but here we are, and here’s what happened:
In June 2013 my life was on cruise control, only to be unexpectedly thrown, dismantled, and pushed beyond all limits.
I was at a conference in D.C for my work as an attorney, and got a call that my Father was in a minor fender-bender but seemingly ok. A day or so later, a swelling appeared on his chest which literally grew overnight to the size of a watermelon. My family and I thought it was from the airbags that deployed, but testing revealed that it was actually a tumor — that he had cancer, and that he was immediately being put on chemo.
What followed were emotionally draining months of watching him endure chemotherapy, painful side effects, and routine hospitalization, along with me navigating my new responsibilities as his part-time care taker.
What then followed was probably the biggest twist to this story — a few months after my Father’s diagnosis, my Mother was also diagnosed with cancer, and put on an even more rigorous plan for chemo.
My life literally felt like a spinning tornado with both of them facing terminal illnesses. My energy was depleted; my career and personal life became sidelined; and I had to closely watch them suffer through long and painful deaths.
My Father passed away on August 30, 2014, followed by Mother on April 30, 2016.
There were points in their illness where it was obvious that their death was imminent, but I don’t think you’re ever really prepared for the moment when someone you truly love actually dies. I certainly wasn’t prepared for what was needed to execute their services.
If you haven’t been responsible for laying a loved one to rest, I can tell you first-hand that it’s an extremely painful, expensive, and inefficient process. While I’m not fond of labeling myself a so-called “serial entrepreneur,” I do consider myself a serial problem solver; and the problems involved in executing end of life services for a loved one are many:
The Emotional Problem
Your heart is metaphorically bleeding when a close loved one dies, and while you are dealing with the wave of emotions, you likely have no choice but to execute arrangements in a timely manner, when you’re probably in no state of mind to do so.
The Financial Problem
Funerals are expensive. The average funeral in the U.S. costs $8–10K, but can easily near or surpass $50k depending on how much is spent on the various costs included such as the casket, headstone, cemetery plot, funeral parlor, cremation, and repass.
The Vulnerability Problem
It’s not uncommon for a funeral parlor to require upfront payment in full before they can retrieve your loved one’s body from a morgue. With a time clock also ticking regarding your loved one’s body decomposition after they die, along with time-sensitive religious burial customs for some people, you might have no choice but to ask people for help in providing the upfront finances — which can leave you feeling extremely vulnerable when you’re already in a sensitive situation to begin with.
The Communication Problem
Once the end of life arrangements are made, you now have to communicate and invite your friends, family, and network to them. I found this process exhausting, because I had to communicate and re-communicate this information over and over again, via email, text, phone, and facebook. In the days leading up to the services for my parents, I really just craved time to silently grieve but I constantly had to retype/reshare the service info. It’s not uncommon for services to include a viewing, wake, funeral, cremation, burial, and repass — all of which require inviting and sharing that info.
The Support Problem
Months after my parents were laid to rest, several friends & colleagues shared that they simply didn’t know what was the best way to show support as they had never gone through a loss so devastating. Some sent flowers, some sent gift baskets, and some wanted to contribute in a more practical way, but weren’t sure how to do so, and what would be the most respectful way to go about it. There were also some people who sent checks to the wrong/old addresses of where my family lived. It was really interesting how inefficient things are for people who want to lend support to you.
After mulling over these problems in the months after my parents died, I couldn’t help but envision the solution I wish I had — so I decided to bring it to life.
Today I’m extremely excited to share with you the launch of Sunsetting.
Sunsetting.co offers easy, elegant, and modern web page memorials to announce the news of the passing of your loved one; share invitations to their end of life services; and optionally receive money gift contributions from your network.
With a few short clicks, you’ll quickly be able to share a link to a beautiful memorial page featuring all the information you need to give your network; have a way for your friends and network to offer support; and an option for privacy if you need it to share your loved one’s web memorial as a password protected page.
Launching a new business around death and dying was the last thing I ever imagined myself doing, but with oldest millennials now hitting 35 with aging parents; the first-hand knowledge I gained of how difficult the process is to put a loved one to rest, and the lack of good tech options I saw to help, I felt that the time was now to turn to tech to disrupt death, and how we encounter it.
I’m excited for this new journey; I appreciate all of you who have supported the launch of this new venture; and I’m incredibly happy to create something that can lend a little comfort to people who are experiencing one of the toughest moment of their lives.
Thanks for reading, and for more information, visit www.Sunsetting.co.
-Mita Carriman, CEO & Founder of Sunsetting.