Leaving Less Unsaid by Michelle Gomes, Co-Founder & CEO, Evaheld
Written by Michelle Gomes, Co-Founder & CEO of Evaheld.
Evaheld exists to empower human connection - one less word unsaid at a time. One less word unsaid at a time… Saying it is probably the easiest part about this phrase, actioning it is one of the hardest things for any of us to do. It is not only hard, it is often painful, to sit with our vulnerability as we speak our truth and create memorialization content for our loved ones to receive after we’re gone, especially when it involves recording what has to date remained unsaid…
What’s fascinating about this phrase and why we chose it as part of our mission, is its universality. While people ask us a million questions about our work and who we serve, never, not once, has anyone asked us what it means to leave less unsaid… It’s an unspoken connector. The experience of what we do not say- and all that we yearn to- and that which has been left unsaid by others, is one of humanity’s great shared experiences. And as such, whether we’ve already realized it or not, we collectively yearn for less to remain unsaid.
While we all innately know that connection is not severed with death, we grieve death as an ending, a grand finale to this thing we call life. As a society we have built up death so much, that sometimes it’s difficult to conceive that one can in some small way continue to create meaningful moments of connection in the future- not simply through shared stories amongst loved ones- but by playing a central role in how their story and their life is memorialized and experienced into the future.
In fact, preserving our story and legacy for multiple generations, and creating personalized messages for future generations to receive, is something which has never been done before on the scale we can do it now! Even our famous historical figures, who's legacies and stories have been preserved better than those of regular folks, did not conceive of leaving specific messages for future descendants, "Hello there, it's your great great great great great….. Grandma Cleopatra here…" How cool would that have been?! Well now, we can do that.
I’d like to ask you to think of someone very dear to you who has passed away… Imagine what it would’ve felt like to have received a video message from them, to hear their voice again as they reminded you how much they love you, shared all of their most precious memories of your time together, and perhaps imparted all the things that remained unsaid when they passed…
At Evaheld, this is what we refer to as posthumous content, it is content that is specifically created for delivery and publication, after one’s death. Most of us only have a few photos of the person we thought of, and memories that are continuing to fade…
And this is not a new concept, so why have so few of us received or created posthumous content?
To put it into perspective, most adults have a will, yet less than 2% of us have prepared heart-felt posthumous content, and even less of us have received any…
Many years ago a good friend of mine passed away at 33, leaving two young children, aged 5 and 7. At the time, she decided that she would write them letters to receive as adults, so that they’d know her story in her own words and also how much they were loved. In this way she was able to preserve legacy for her sons in a way that felt empowering to her, because she was able to enshrine her voice for them and ensure they received such content at a time when perhaps their memory of her would have all but faded, and it would be truly meaningful; she knew that this gift would create a moment of connection between her adult sons and herself, in the future, at a time when after having lived for so long without their mum, it would be astoundingly significant. And it is.
My friend’s experience inspired years of volunteering this service to others, and also some of the first research in the space, as we truly wanted to understand why more people weren’t creating posthumous content.
Our findings were validating, but not at all surprising, and as we’ve learnt, while posthumous content is seldom a topic that a lot of us think about, as soon as people hear about our findings, the usual response is “Ah, that makes sense.”
We simplified our findings into what we call the three primary inhibitors to posthumous content creation: Privacy, Trust and Support.
When it came to privacy, there were a few fears that consistently came up: People were scared that their content would be found before they died, to some it mattered that it would potentially be by the wrong person, to others it was worse for it to be found by the right ones… They were also scared that it might be delivered to the wrong person, or that someone other than its intended recipient would receive it.
Trust was another huge inhibitor, this centered around deliverability. Some people felt that they couldn’t trust anyone to deliver their content for them and others didn’t want it to come from a solicitor - yes this was a thing- for various reasons, such as costs. Others mentioned a lack of trust around internet storage generally, although this was less of an issue than we anticipated. For many, they simply didn’t want to burden anyone with having to deliver this content on their behalf, this was expounded by the fact that for many of these people, the first person they thought of to deliver it for them, was one of the people they’d want to surprise with posthumous content, including personalized messages of love.
Our biggest finding however, was that overwhelmingly, the biggest hurdle to more people creating posthumous content, was having to overcome how emotionally challenging it is, and how vulnerable it makes them feel just thinking about it, let alone creating it. It is a really hard thing to do, we’ve sat through it, held hands through it and shed many shared tears with those we have supported. The thing we've found though, is that once people get started, it's not as hard as they think, and we believe it's because intrinsically we want to leave less unsaid.
If you can’t tell by now, we live and breathe posthumous content, and with the million and one ways that exist to create and store content, we actively implore people to create it and simply put it on a USB and give it to a loved one, or upload it to a Youtube account- the options are truly endless.
And, if people feel they need support like guided content creation, help getting the (right) words out, and deliverability mechanisms they can trust, then we're here to help.
We encourage posthumous content so wholeheartedly because we are yet to meet someone who has not told us that it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done. In fact we’ve heard time and time again, that the peace of mind it gives, is truly profound.
And recipients… Well they tell us, it’s the best gift they’ve ever received…
We just wish that creators could’ve seen how much they’re messages and memorialization content meant to those they gifted it to, although if truth be told, we believe that they do. From creation to delivery, we believe in the omnipresence of the connections we ferry from one heart to another and into the future.
Evaheld is an online platform that supports its users to create various types of video, audio and written memorialization content and messages, safekeeping and delivering it to their loved ones or publishing it as per their wishes, after they’re gone. Our hope is that we can help people maintain everlasting connections and give them confidence that their privacy, integrity and independence is safe with us in life and death, so that more of us leave less unsaid.
And, our hope is that one day our children and grandchildren won’t need to imagine how amazing it would feel to receive posthumous content- as I asked you to do earlier- because they’ll know, we would’ve gifted it to them.
Our mission is simple, it’s to empower human connection - one less word unsaid at a time.