The Current

How death in Gaby Eirew's life inspired a legacy app

When Gaby Eirew's father passed away and a close friend died by suicide shortly after, she created a recording app for children whose parents have died — to leave a loving legacy after death.
When Gaby Eirew mourned the loss of her father and a close friend, she turned to people to talk about death and grief, and created Record Me Now app as a way to leave a legacy. (Courtesy of Gaby Eirew)

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In 2008, Gaby Eirew was a young mother of three living in Vancouver, far from her family in England when she got the news that her father had died from pancreatic cancer.

 Eirew reached out to her friend back home, only to discover that Emma — also a young mother of three children — had committed suicide.

"I was plunged into huge grief, without having anybody here who knew either my dad, or me or Emma. And that was very, very difficult."

Eirew recalls a time when she tried to make things normal for her kids but just couldn't catch her breath. 
Talking to people about death and grief helped Gaby Eirew to create the Record Me Now app. (Paolo Costa/Wikimedia)

"It was a very, very strange landscape ... it was really alien to me."

 Eirew looked for people who had lost a parent as a child to look for advice and support.

"I really wanted to know for my friend's children, what would be useful to tell them? So I was really asking people ... if you experienced the death of a parent what would have helped you at the time — or later into the future?"

 Eirew says many people who lost their parent early in life felt guilty not remembering their parent's face or voice.

"And the biggest thing people wanted to hear was 'I love you' with their name on the end from that parent."

These conversations inspired Eirew to create something that would help parents leave a legacy for their children.  She brought together a team of people and created a free app called Record Me Now that includes questions to help the process.

"My dream is that every parent leaves something for their children that's emotional and supportive and that's why I made it free because, you know, I would just like anyone to leave something with their will for their child."

Since the app was created, the University of British Columbia's medical school has been using it in their research on death and dying.  And a group of long-term inmates in Texas have been using the app to leave messages for the children they often don't see anymore.

But mostly it's just average people using the service as a way to leave something for their children that goes beyond possessions.

Listen to Gaby Eirew's full story at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese and Josh Bloch.