Many people feel a special obligation to create the FindAGrave memorial for close family members. So what do you do when someone else already did? Here’s how to get your ancestor’s FindAGrave memorial transferred to you.
Getting a FindAGrave Memorial Transferred to You
FindAGrave’s policy is that, “Memorials are transferred for direct relatives within four generations. This includes your spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.” (Per FindAGrave’s support page, July 2021.) What this means is that if the deceased is one of those relations to you, the person who created the memorial is required to transfer it to you.
There are two provisions: The memorial cannot be for a famous person (so, sorry if your great-grandmother is considered “famous” by FindAGrave; you can’t manage her memorial.) It also won’t be transferred to you if the creator is more closely related. (So if you’re the great-grandchild and the creator was the grandchild, he or she doesn’t have to transfer it to you.)
To start the transfer process, you have to be on FindAGrave.com on your computer. These options are not included in the FindAGrave app. Go to the memorial page and click on the “Suggest Edits” button in the top section of the page. (It’s under the person’s name, dates, and burial information.)
To request the transfer, scroll down to the bottom of the form and click the “Suggest other corrections” button.
You’ll then get a form where you can request a “correction.” Tell the person that you are requesting a transfer and how you are related to the deceased. (Note: Even though they are required to transfer it to you if you’re within the 4 generations, some will transfer it if you’re outside those guidelines. It doesn’t hurt to ask.) Click the “Save Suggestions” button…. and wait.
You’ll be notified when the person transfers management of the memorial to you. If it takes more than 30 days, contact FindAGrave at email@example.com and explain the situation. If you’re within the 4-generation requirement, they will make the memorial transfer for you.
Removing Images from FindAGrave Memorials
To say that someone is “managing” a FindAGrave memorial is a bit of a misnomer. Managing a memorial means that the manager can add edit the information on the memorial. What it doesn’t allow is the removal of images that others have added.
It turns out that the only person who can delete an image from FindAGrave is the person who posted it. If you’ve created a memorial or had one transferred to you, you cannot delete any of the images that others post on there.
I have to say that this was a surprise to me. I created my Dad’s FindAGrave memorial within 90 minutes of learning of his death. (I had been burned before by waiting until after meeting with the funeral home director when my father-in-law died. A complete stranger made his memorial before I even got home from the meeting.) Imagine my surprise when I discovered that someone had taken my Dad’s photo from his online obituary and added it to the memorial that I created. Considering that I’m also the one who provided the photo for the funeral home to use, if the family had wanted his photo on his FindAGrave memorial, I would have added it.
Now, imagine my surprise, frustration, and dismay to discover that even though I created Dad’s memorial, I couldn’t delete this photo.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you can do. Under the photo there should be a caption, “Added by [username] on [date].” Click on the username and it will take you to that person’s profile. At the top of the profile, you’ll see a button to “Send Message.”
Even though some FindAGrave users have an email address in their profile, I prefer the “Send Message” option, as it lets FindAGrave see that you did try to contact them, should you need to escalate matters.
In your message, request that the photo be removed and why. Also include the FindAGrave memorial number. (Some people have literally thousands of photos that they’ve added; including the memorial ID will get let them know exactly what you’re referring to.)
Here’s the message that I sent to the person who
stole posted my Dad’s photo:
Subject Line: Please Remove Photo
Message: Hello. Please remove the photo of my father, [name redacted], that you added to his memorial #[redacted]. If my family had wanted his photo posted, I would have done so when I created his memorial. I appreciate your assistance with this.
Ok, yeah, I might have sounded a bit snippy, but that’s how I was feeling. I’m not sure why someone would go through online obits and add the person’s photo to a memorial that already exists. We’re not talking about someone who died decades ago. We’re talking about a photo of someone who just died. Frankly, it was disturbing to me that someone did that.
The person did delete my dad’s photo, but what if he or she didn’t? Or what if they had turned off getting messages through FindAGrave? If it’s a photo that you have copyright to, contact FindAGrave directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Explain that the user has not removed the photo and that you are the copyright holder. Be sure to include the FindAGrave memorial number so that they can correctly identify it.
A Word About Copyright and Photos in Obituaries
Many families provide photos for obituaries (either in print or online). Doing so does NOT mean that they relinquish copyright. In other words, just because a family allows a photo to be published with the obituary, it does NOT mean that others can copy that photo and use it however they wish.
Let me repeat that. Just because a photo is used in a print or online obituary, it does NOT mean that anyone can copy that photo and use it how they wish. That includes posting it on FindAGrave.
“But I’m trying to help.” Ok, stop and think for a second. First, it isn’t yours to copy. (See above.) Second, if the family provided the photo for the obit, that means that someone in the family has that photo. It isn’t like the photo is gone forever if the obit goes away.
But most importantly — it hurts the family. “Oh, but Amy, it can’t hurt. Most people don’t even know about FindAGrave.” That might be true, but they do know about Google. And what a lot of people do when they are grieving is to seek out connections to that loved one. (Death of a loved one is often what triggers an interest in family history.) So they Google mom’s name or grandpa’s name…. and they find a memorial on FindAGrave, complete with the photo that they themselves provided for the obituary.
As someone who contacted me when I went public with my experience with this, it feels unnerving.
Please, be sensitive to the families of the recently deceased. If you aren’t the one who took the photo of the deceased, don’t post it.