As much as we plot and plan out our lives, our ending, that final memorial, almost always falls to someone else.

WGN’s Erin Ivory has the story of how many are rethinking what it means to be remembered. 

Alexandra Koys started Lighten after planning her beloved uncle’s memorial five years ago.

“There really weren’t any businesses or services out there to help families who wanted something different than the somber funeral home,” Koys said.

That moment was what inspired Koys to create a business that would flip the script on traditional funerals and bring memorials outside to parks, inside museums, theatres and art galleries.

Laura Desmond used Lighten to plan a gathering at a museum wing full of artifacts of her beloved late spouse, Marylyn Grabosky.

“Her scarf collection, photos, her sewing, pottery, furniture and all her journals from her adult life (were included),” Desmond said. “Being able to put something out there that really memorializes them in such a special way, brings their true being to life, it really fills a little of that hole”. 

Business is thriving for Koys as more clients explore not only new ways to remember those closest to their heart but how they process those memories.

“Losing someone is so out of our control that being able to manage how we process and hold on to their memory is one thing we do have power over,” Compass Health LCSW, Heather Katz, said.

The pandemic thrust this movement forward as everyone had to rethink how we hold these end of life gatherings, with more people gravitating toward the positive feels these alternative memorial can evoke.

“At the end of the day we want their focus to be their life, not their passing,” Koys said.