Funeral Industry News Justin Crowe

ModUrn Offers Unprecedented Pre-need Keepsakes for Collecting Living Memories

August 8, 2018

Justin believes that remarkable experiences enrich our lives. The poor experience surrounding cremated remains is inhibiting our ability to grieve, and his forthcoming technology introduces a clean, touchable, beautiful alternative.


ModUrn Offers Unprecedented Pre-need Keepsakes for Collecting Living Memories

Only rarely does a product come along that fixes a problem you didn’t know you had. While perusing the vendors at the CANA 2018 Convention, I had an unexpected experience with a remarkable company out of Australia showing off a unique memorial keepsake for the digital age.

There are two current phenomena in death care that are in motion, but have not quite been resolved as a practical part of daily life or solidified as a standard ritual. The first phenomenon is the question of digital legacy and the current band-aid solution is Facebook’s “memorialized account” (there is an academic conference devoted to digital legacy that you can read about here). The second phenomenon is the popularization of hyper-custom memorial keepsakes like thumbprint jewelry, engraving, or things-made-from-ashes products.

The modUrn Memento unites the trend of the memorial keepsake with an elegant solution to the question of digital legacy. Thier keepsake is the physical world touchstone to a rich digital database of videos, letters, recipes, memoirs, stories, and more.

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ModUrn founder, Sonia Vachalec’s idea is that we should each craft our own digital legacy now to be passed on to our loved ones later – after we’re gone. We can record videos memoirs, leave profound life advice for infant relatives, or send someone on a memorable post-life scavenger hunt. You can participate in your own memorialization celebration. I could begin a digital legacy now, for my unborn children – amazing… and strange, right?

I imagine families rallying around their elders, engaging with them and using modUrn to reconnect during those later years,” explains Vachalec. “As a society, we are so intrigued about our family history and sadly many important and beautiful stories or lessons can be lost in a single generation.

The keepsake works by connecting with a smartphone app via Bluetooth which holds the trove of legacy data. You can select to automatically activate the database when you are within a 7-meter proximity of the keepsake, or you can simply use the keepsake as a reminder to visit the intimate data. Once you connect with the keepsake you can access the digital legacy at any point using the smartphone app.

My favorite aspect of the modUrn Memento is that it touches on a major problem with digital legacy in relation to the grief psychology school of thought “Continuing Bonds.” In short, this widely accepted theory shows that our relationship with people in our lives evolves over time – from childhood to adulthood – and upon the death of a loved one we continue to have a relationship it just goes through another evolution (learn more about Continuing Bonds here). A common way to understand this new relationship with the lack of a physical person is to form a connection with an object that represents them like their favorite coffee cup, blanket, a photo, or remains. A Facebook page carries a rich history of a life but lacks the physical bond – the modUrn Memento provides it.

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Vachalec was inspired to launch ModUrn by her own loss at a young age:

When I was 23, my dad passed away and it was a harrowing and traumatic time. Since then, I’ve been hoarding as many of his things mostly sentimental items, like the tie he wore on his wedding day. These special items are carried around for years because we really can’t bear to let them go. Other things like the sound of my dad’s voice or his smile, all of those things fade with time. I wanted to develop a place to keep all of these treasures, meaningful moments and memories to have a central place with modern design and platform to be able to honour and relive these life stories.

From a business perspective, the modUrn Memento presents an interesting distribution question – who sells this? By the time you are in the funeral home, it’s too late for the deceased to build their digital legacy, but this could be sold to family members to prepare their own legacy. This could also present a new revenue stream and a gateway product for pre-need sales by providing a fun, lighthearted way to get people thinking about end-of-life planning.

Final Touch Australia Distributes modUrn and representative Chantelle O’Neill explained their excitement about this future-facing product:

With lots of changes hitting the industry it is important to stay ahead of the curve. modUrn gave us the unique opportunity in this space to offer a product consumers are looking for. Designed by a consumer herself, Sonia had a very unique approach brought about through personal experience.

modUrn is a product that can continue to grow with generations and adapt with changes to social preferences. We know it is a must to stay ahead and remain relevant in memorialisation. A lot of businesses miss this point, we didn’t want to be one of those.

modUrn offers two products, their memento and a cremation urn – both connected to their digital legacy app. To learn more or to inquire about carrying the products contact Sonia Vachalec at [email protected] and visit their website here.

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