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… it really is time to take action

It was two months ago that The Legal Genealogist added this space’s voice to that of others calling for a moratorium on non-family-members posting memorials for the recently-deceased on Find A Grave for at least some time to give the families of those involved a chance to deal with a loved one’s death before some stranger spread the information into a space on the ethernet that the family hadn’t yet occupied.

In A modest proposal, I suggested a 90-day moratorium on allowing strangers to post memorials to the site1 — others have suggested 30 days, even a couple of weeks2 — to give the families of the recently deceased time to come to terms with their loss before an utter stranger is allowed to invade their space by adding a memorial to that website.

Today, we got another reminder of why that website — and its corporate owner — needs to take action on this. This was posted just hours ago on Facebook:

Now before the Find A Grave apologists begin, let me say that I don’t want to hear that the family and the funeral home should have waited to put the obituary together or they shouldn’t have put sent it to the newspaper in their local area. None of us can know how many people from the local area needed to know of this loss in a timely way, or how much the family needed local support.

And I don’t want to hear that the family should have known that allowing the obituary to be published at all meant that it would be online on the newspaper’s website, or that they should have known that having it on the newspaper’s website would mean it would be scarfed up instantly by some stranger and put on some other website. None of us can know what these folks were coping with, or how familiar they are with the ways of the online world.

I don’t want to hear that maybe the soldier serving overseas wouldn’t ever hear of this loss in this way. None of us can know if he’s a genealogist himself and in touch with other genealogists.

And I definitely do not want to hear that any harm that resulted here was the fault of the family.

None of us can walk in that family’s shoes. None of us can know anything about what they knew, didn’t know, understood or didn’t understand.

What we can know is that no family’s decisions in a time of personal tragedy and grief should have to be made in fear of some stranger sticking his or her nose into their business.

As the poster says, swooping in at a time when the family is struggling isn’t “honoring the person who died or respecting the family at all. It’s just cold-hearted, even if that is not the intent.”

This needs to stop.

Find A Grave? Ancestry? Are you listening?

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Hey, Find A Grave,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 7 Oct 2019).


  1. Judy G. Russell, “A modest proposal,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 5 Aug 2019 ( : accessed 7 Oct 2019).
  2. See e.g. Amy Johnson Crow, “How FindAGrave Could – and Should – Be Made Better,”, posted 21 Oct 2016 ( : accessed 7 Oct 2019).
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