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Not perfect, but it’s a start

Find A Grave yesterday announced a new system for the posting of memorials for the “recently deceased” (defined as anyone who has died within the past year) in an effort to give the families some greater opportunity than they have had to control the death reports and memorials for their own loved ones.

The announcement came in the support section for the Ancestry-owned-and-crowdsourced website under the title “Memorials for those who are recently deceased,” and the “changes apply to memorials added after January 11, 2022” — today.1

New Find a Grave rule

Under the new system, anyone — including the total strangers who haunt the funeral home and newspaper websites at midnight each night waiting for new death notices to be posted — will still be able to create a memorial for a person recently deceased. However, the contributor will be asked whether he or she is closely related to the deceased.

A “yes” answer requires the poster to designate the relationship: spouse/partner; child; parent; grandchild; sibling; aunt/uncle; niece/nephew; or cousin. While the question doesn’t specify, other support pages indicate a cousin must be a first cousin.2 The exact relationship can be made public, and will display with the memorial, or private, and the memorial will simply display as “Relationship is private.”

According to the announcement, under the new system, “If the member adding this memorial is not related within our updated transfer guidelines, to be sensitive to family members, the memorial displays with limited information to others on the site for the first three months after the death date. After three months from the death date, the view of the memorial is no longer limited. The memorial will show as others do except that for up to a year from the death date, the option for a close relative to ‘Manage’ the memorial will show on the memorial.”3

And, the statement says, “During those first three months after the death date (when the memorial displays with a limited view), we have added a simple way for close relatives to request to manage the memorial. A close relative can click the ‘Manage’ button, add their relationship, and become the manager for a new memorial for that person.”4

Now… there’s a lot about how this new system will work that isn’t clear. Many of the scoop-up-all-the-new-deaths folks use spreadsheets to upload information in bulk. It isn’t at all clear whether they’ll be able to circumvent some of the new controls with spreadsheet entries.

The new system is supposed to “limit the number of memorials (a contributor) can manage with certain relationship types to help prevent abuse.”5 What that means, exactly, hasn’t been stated, and letting anyone claim to be a “cousin” leaves a lot of wiggle room.

What data added by the first person to create a memorial will remain if a family member does choose to take over management also isn’t clear. Currently, new managers can add additional photos but can’t delete ones posted by the memorial creator. It’s not clear how the new system may impact that, so the family can control which photos — if any — are associated with a memorial they choose to manage.

Clearly, this new system — effective today — isn’t perfect. It’s not the waiting period that The Legal Genealogist and so many others had urged.6 It will not completely stop the anguish of a family member going online to create a memorial for a loved one, only to find that some unrelated stranger has already done it.

But it may stop some of those cases, and it should slow down others, and it will make it easier for the families to secure control of the memorial if someone else has already beaten them to creating one.

So… it’s a start…

Not perfect, but a start.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Change at Find A Grave,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 11 Jan 2022).


  1. See “Memorials for those who are recently deceased,” Contribute > Add Memorials, Support, ( : accessed 11 Jan 2022).
  2. See ibid., “Request to Manage,” Memorial Management.
  3. Memorials for those who are recently deceased,”
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. See e.g. Amy Johnson Crow, “How FindAGrave Could – and Should – Be Made Better,”, posted 21 Oct 2016 ( : accessed 11 Jan 2022). And see Judy G. Russell, “A modest proposal,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 5 Aug 2019 ( : accessed 11 Jan 2022). Also, ibid., “Hey, Find a Grave…,” posted 7 Oct 2019, and “Now more than ever…,” posted 15 Dec 2020.
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