Disrupting the business of dying

Funeral planning is a difficult experience that comes at the worst time. Can a new startup fix it?

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Funeral planning represents an inherently difficult time for those who have just lost a loved one and, unfortunately, this is too often compounded by the debt that’s incurred simply trying to celebrate a person’s life.

Expenses quickly add up while arranging for transportation, a venue, the burial, and other funeral services. Many are left to make an impossible decision between not properly honoring the deceased or taking on insurmountable debt doing so.

Adding to the issue, few Americans take the time to prepare for funerals in advance because broaching the subject of death is often thought of as “taboo.” For this reason, funeral planning often comes right at a time when someone is least prepared emotionally and financially to handle the undertaking.

To ease the burden of the entire process for those mourning a loss, Alison Johnston and Eric Zarowny created Ever Loved: an online platform that helps you cover all the bases of funeral planning, instead of stressing over how to pay for it. 

Why is Funeral Planning So Expensive? 

The average funeral cost in America currently falls between $7,000 to $12,000. Pair this with the fact that approximately 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings and what is already a very difficult time can quickly worsen into a financial crisis. It seems unconscionable that during one of the hardest times in a person’s life, they can be forced into crippling debt.

Funeral planning, as it stands, can be an incredibly cold process. Relatives of the deceased must call around to multiple funeral homes before choosing one to pick up the body of their loved one. Oftentimes, people feel forced into simply selecting the one that can pick up the body first, or that can do it for the lowest cost.

Alison Johnston, the CEO of Ever Loved, explains, “People have a hard time making educated decisions around funeral care… when you’re dealing with that extreme grief of losing someone it’s very hard to complete even simple tasks, so people tend to just go along with whatever is recommended to them.”

Ever Loved was created to improve these very situations. Rather than having to sift through dozens of funeral homes, caskets, and burial plots, while handling the emotional toll of their loss, they can turn to this one-stop funeral planning website for peace of mind. 

How to Plan a Funeral on Ever Loved

To simplify the entire process and make it easier to manage, the Ever Loved website offers a number of unique features that enable its users to truly focus on honoring the life of the deceased.

The website provides estimates for local funeral homes and services. It makes it easy to search for memorial items like urns, headstones, and caskets from reputable retailers in multiple price ranges.

Ever Loved also offers resources such as a custom planning guide with checklists of often-overlooked details, and ways to share funeral arrangements with loved ones. It even allows users to create an online obituary for the deceased.

But what the creators of Ever Loved saw as their users’ biggest need was assistance in covering funeral expenses. So they began to offer crowdfunding features with the option to pay funeral homes directly. This feature also gives funeral planners the ability to raise funds for charitable causes in their loved one’s honor. 

Coping in the Midst of a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many families to either postpone or forego funerals altogether, due to social distancing requirements. The inability to gather has impeded the grieving process for many, worsening an already difficult time.

One Ever Loved user, Janice Lobo Sapigao, describes, “I lost my mom on April 3, 2020… so a lot of people have had difficulty reaching out and attempting to really be there for me and my family.”

For times like these, the Ever Loved website has a “Grief Center” where people can connect with others grieving the same loss, or those who have experienced similar types of loss. Even though it’s not in-person, the Center provides a source of support and a strong sense of community.

Through its Grief Center and many other resources, Ever Loved provides a framework to make funeral planning a much easier process, one that eliminates stress so we can all focus on what’s most important – celebrating the lives of those we lose.

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