A debt of gratitude – an Estonian company revolutionises graveyard maintenance

Gratitude Services set out to modernise an old sector, then became the biggest cemetery services provider in Estonia.

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They say the simplest ideas are often the best and the idea behind Gratitude Services is simple – to bring customers and service providers together for graveyard maintenance. Estonian World spoke to Gerli Palgi, one of the co-founders of Gratitude Services to find out more about this essential service and just how one becomes involved in the grave maintenance business.

Bringing together customers and service providers for graveyard maintenance

“We are not in the grief business,” Palgi said. “We are here to provide a practical solution for a problem that affects many Estonians, both at home and abroad.”

For those unfamiliar with Estonian cemeteries, the law considers them a public space that must be well maintained. Usually, cemetery maintenance is divided up among family members throughout the year, but, more often than not, this becomes difficult for some people because of health problems or logistical reasons. That is where Gratitude Services comes in. Its online service brings together customers and service providers for graveyard maintenance, as well as for those who wish to remember their loved ones by sending flowers and candles at holidays and anniversaries.

In fact, that is how it all began. “In October 2019, we launched a candle delivery service for All Souls Day, which was so popular that we decided to provide the same service for Christmas. After, clients started asking us if we could provide basic grave maintenance as well, and the business grew from there,” Palgi stated.

Servicing hundreds of cemeteries

Gratitude Services now offers its maintenance services in 325 cemeteries across Estonia, and candle placement at 107 cemeteries. The process is simple. Simply type in the name of your ancestor on their website, which then produces a list of possible matches, including the place of burial. Select the name of your ancestor, the product or service, then continue to the online payment.

“One hundred and seven cemeteries in Estonia are digitally mapped, meaning you can pinpoint the exact location of a grave. Of course, there have been some more challenging cases that require further research, but our goal is to digitally map all of Estonia’s cemeteries and eventually expand through the Baltics,” Palgi asserted.

This process will take time, as Palgi and her co-founders are trying to modernise an old sector and an old business model. “In the past, if you wanted a similar service, you would have to contact the cemetery, who would then look for local service providers,” she noted. “This was especially difficult and time-consuming. Now it’s all in one place.”

Gerli Palgi.

Clients are thankful for the thoughtful work

Gratitude Services provides many different package options and prices start at €25 and vary according to the size of the plot and the state in which it is found. They provide maintenance services like grass cutting, raking, watering of plants and flowers, throwing away old candles, and planting new flowers. “We listen to what the customer wants,” Palgi said.

“What is particularly satisfying are the before and after pictures we provide. Clients are so thankful for the thoughtful work put into the maintenance of the graves of their loved ones.”

Gratitude Services works much in the same way as Bolt or Wolt. There are customers and there are service providers. The company has a network of grave maintenance specialists throughout Estonia who are ready to help. Anyone can sign up through its website.

Helping more Estonians abroad

Up until now, Gratitude Services has maintained and/or visited almost 600 graves, but this is just the beginning. Palgi and her team hope to help more Estonians abroad. “Our website is simple and convenient to use, and we offer service in English. Payments are made online, and we will send you before and after pictures of our work. We hope to help as many people as we can.”

Cover: An unmaintained grave and a grave maintained by Gratitude Services. Photo by Martin Rästa. Photos by Gratitude Services.

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