New Service Is the Last Word in E-Mail

Times Staff Writer

From: The great beyond

To: Loved one

Subject: Don't bother to hit the reply button

With, you can communicate long after you've logged off. The service, which started Monday, charges $9.99 for a three-year subscription (no refund if you don't need it that long) for postmortem delivery of farewell e-mails.

The service received "mixed reviews" in market research tests, said Karen Peach, a spokeswoman for the company behind it, Tampa, Fla.-based Lifetouch. It is a joint venture of Layton Technologies Inc., a Tampa software company, and Centrical Solutions, a Web design firm in Britain.

"It's a bit of a strange subject," Peach said. "After thinking about it for some time, though, people come back and say it's a perfectly good idea."

There is, in fact, a long tradition of well-organized folks writing old-fashioned paper letters to be read after their passing.

"This service is much more convenient," Peach said. "No one can come across your letters by accident if you left them lying around the house."

To Laura Larsen, a registered nurse in Malibu and author of "Facing the Final Mystery," any missive left behind by the departed is a form of what she calls "immortality thinking." (She points out that there are other expressions of this: "Some people want to be frozen so they can wake up later.")

For her part, Larsen encourages patients not to wait to share feelings with friends and family.

"It's a much better plan to tell people these things when you're still alive. That seems much warmer and realer than an e-mail," she said.

"I speak my heart to people I care about every chance I get. I don't want to wait to be dead for them to get the message."

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