By Leader Contributor Liz Eddy, CEO of Lantern
“We need to do something about death.”
I was standing at the front door of my then friend and now co-founder, Alyssa. I was still in the throes of tying up the loose ends of my grandmother’s life after her passing a few weeks earlier, and while the grief was overwhelming, what struck me most was how unguided the whole process felt. That one sentence “we need to do something about death” became the starting point for a series of brainstorms, user research, and testing that ultimately yielded Lantern, the one resource you need to navigate life before and after a death. We created it not for the dead, but for the living — death is our single greatest commonality, and yet, there was very little in place to help people navigate it. Now there is.
In the early days of Lantern, we were met with a lot of uncertainty and closed doors from funeral home providers. Some mentioned they were overrun with companies trying to sell them things, others said that they weren’t interested in new technology, while some simply felt they had everything covered for their customers. Let me start by saying: I’m not here to sell you anything. Lantern is free to users and funeral homes are welcome to share it with their clients as a resource at no charge. But, I am here to tell you this: (a) you don’t have the entire process covered and (b) you shouldn’t have to.
I don’t need to tell you what an exceptional service a funeral home can provide for a family. There is so much uncertainty at the time of a loss, and I can say from personal experience that a funeral director’s guidance can be invaluable. But, it’s also condensed into a finite period of time. Support leading up to a death and after a funeral are also critical to the emotional, legal, financial, and logistical needs of the remaining family members. Funeral homes shouldn’t be expected to support customers through all of the phases, but it’s a smart business move to not only refer but partner with businesses like Lantern.
In every industry, technology has come in, shaken things up, and wholly taken over. The same is happening to the funeral industry. We’re seeing businesses transform funeral home search (like Funeralocity), make end-of-life legal paperwork easier (like Trust + Will), give wider access to grief support (like Grief Coach), make supporting grieving friends easier and more helpful (like Give InKind), and allow grievers to find peace and share memories (like Lifeweb and Gathering Us).
Yes, technology is beginning to address every corner of the industry, but it’s important to note that one doesn’t have to exist without the other. We can create an ecosystem that equally supports tech and human power; giving grieving families the absolute best possible service for their many, diverse needs.
We’re ready to join forces … are you?
About Liz Eddy
Liz is the Co-Founder and CEO of Lantern, a venture-backed Public Benefit Corporation that’s on a mission to change the way we talk about and manage end of life and death. She sees tech as an opportunity to build accessible, affordable and scalable support for the darkest, hardest-to-talk-about moments in life. Previously, she ran a nonprofit focused on dating abuse and domestic violence education, ran special projects for DoSomething.org and ran communications on the founding team of Crisis Text Line. She’s also a board member of Experience Camps, free summer camps for grieving kids.