Death Goes Digital

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Washington’s gravestone manufacturers are leading the nation in taking their craft digital. Earlier this year, Seattle’s Quiring Monuments unveiled a new “Living Headstone” memorial with a quick-response—or QR—tag affixed to it. This feature allows visitors to use smartphones to scan a headstone and learn more about the deceased, as well as to leave comments on a memorial website.

The idea is to fill in the gap between dates of birth and death, says David Quiring, president of Quiring Monuments. Not only do these new offerings tell people’s life stories, he says, but they also engage a younger, tech-savvy generation.

Quiring pioneered the use of QR-tagged headstones in Washington state and the trend is catching on. Tim Miller at Premier Memorial in Tacoma says he is investigating a tagging program, and other monument manufacturers around the state are starting to integrate similar technology. Memorial makers “need to look at ways to implement technology not only to make our lives easier but to help the families that we serve,” says Joey Fuerstenberg, manager of Vancouver Granite Works.

“We’re trying to keep on the leading edge of technology,” acknowledges Ron Bohman of Spokane’s Genesis Granite. Bohman serves on a national advisory committee for a “Light of Hope” grave marker illumination product. The Michigan firm creating the product hopes its high-quality LED lights, embedded in the ground or at the base of monuments, will drive greater visitor traffic, which is declining as cremation becomes more common in the United States.

Making cemeteries inviting and accessible goes hand in hand with the social-media aspect. “It’s more than just a gravesite now,” says Quiring. “A cemetery is a place where people can come and actually partake of the uniqueness of life.”

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