We're always keen to catch up with like-minded businesses and it's heartening to see how technology is being used to help make things easier for families when dealing with end of life and funeral planning. Let's face it, this is not something which most people relish the thought of, and it's often something that people only think about when the need suddenly arises. So Guardian Angel, an online platform which makes it easier for family and friends to connect and coordinate at a difficult time, is a welcome addition to the digital world. We catch up with founder Sam Grice and find out more about how it works.
How did the idea for Guardian Angel come about?
In 2016 I lost my mother in a car accident. The next few weeks were really difficult. This was not just dealing with the loss, but organising the funeral. No one is an expert at this sort of thing, and you rely heavily on your friends and family. At one point during this time my uncle mused, ‘Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could coordinate this process?’ Somehow that triggered my idea for an online support group for the bereaved.
Can you tell us a bit more about Guardian Angel - when did it launch and who is it for?
Guardian Angel was founded in 2018. I wanted to create a modern environment to help people through the bereavement journey. But the company has grown a lot since then. Whilst we started with bereavement support, we have also moved into later life planning. These two things are linked, and we now have a mission to offer families a comprehensive service to deal with death and dying.
How do people use the site - what is a Support Hub?
A support hub is a private and secure page that is created in memory of someone’s loved one. They are largely used to share photos and memories, raise money for charity and provide details of the funeral. Our support hubs also allow friends and extended family to organise tasks like picking up a relative from the airport or organising meal deliveries so families don't have to worry about cooking or grocery shopping while dealing with grief. Guardian Angel also links family members with funeral directors, creating a central point of contact.
Do you think death is becoming less of a taboo subject? Are people more comfortable talking about death and dying?
Death is a taboo, one of society's last. However this is changing rapidly and there are plenty of great initiatives out there; from Death Cafes to Griefcast (a podcast were comedians talk about death). There are also several companies actively trying to build brands in this space and they will need to break the taboo to do so.
How do you think the internet is helping people to deal with death and bereavement?
The internet has a way of removing friction from our lives. We don't aim to make death easy, nor do we claim to be “death experts”. We simply want to make things a little easier if we can. Companies do not break taboos, society does. Our support hubs often get well over 2,000 visitors, and this engagement is strong evidence of this taboo breaking. The fact that we are able to facilitate this, and where this can go in the future is what keeps me excited!
What are your plans for Guardian Angel?
I hope the company can make a positive and long-lasting contribution to society. By helping to break down the taboo attached to dying, we ultimately want to help everybody plan for and through death. The products we release will be in line with this mandate.
And finally, have you thought about your own funeral plans?
Yes, but what I want does change with time. I am from New Zealand so I want my funeral to be a BBQ on a beach…summer or winter. Music will have to be Crowded House, Tiki Taane and Fat Freddy's Drop. A cremation, or a green equivalent (if the laws change), and I want my ashes spread in one of New Zealand’s National Parks and some wherever we decide to spread my mother's.
A big thank you to Sam for telling us more about Guardian Angel and sharing his thoughts with us. If you are organising a funeral and would like to create a Support Hub, you can find out more at www.guardianangel.network