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The saddest Web site on Earth

A new single-service Web site lets you know approximately how many more times you'll get to see your parents before they die. Seriously.

Emily Dreyfuss Former Editor
Emily Dreyfuss is the senior associate editor charged with keeping CNET's home page fresh and on point. With 7 years experience as a journalist, she writes commentary and is the former co-host of CNET TV's Rumor Has It.
Emily Dreyfuss
2 min read

Screenshot by Emily Dreyfuss/CNET

Updated with comments from co-creator Luke Tipping.

I'm sorry to share this, but as they say, misery loves company.

Four well-meaning Brits got together and launched SeeYourFolks.com on July 16. Since then, every person who has visited the site has felt a lump in his or her throat. After answering a few seemingly innocuous questions, visitors are presented with a number. In my case, a horrifying number that was shockingly low, because I live across the country from my parents and am -- I guess -- a terrible child who doesn't visit enough. This number is generated using life expectancy data from the World Health Organization.

One second, I need to go find a tissue box before I can write another word.

OK, once you stop crying and get off the phone with your mom and dad, you'll likely ask yourself: WHY ON EARTH DID THOSE BRITISH PEOPLE MAKE THIS WEB SITE? THANKS A LOT, GUYS! Well, you can scroll down on the page and get their explanation:

We believe that increasing awareness of death can help us to make the most of our lives. The right kind of reminders can help us to focus on what matters, and perhaps make us better people.

Sounds nice and and idealistic, if a tad aggressive (like most self-help in my opinion), but co-creator Luke Tipping got in touch to explain why those are more than just words for him. "A few weeks ago a few friends were trying to get me to skip going home to see my parents," Luke wrote. "Hoping I'd stay in London to go to a few parties. Whilst thinking about [it] I did a simple equation in his head. 'How old are my parents? How many times do I see them a year? When are they expected to die?'. The number I got back wasn't big enough. Instantly my decision was made for me."

Luke booked his trip home and says he was "way more present in the company of [his] parents and [has] been ever since." After that, it apparently only took Luke and the three other Web developers, designers, and editors 24 hours to launch SeeYourFolks.com, but the pain of learning whatever number the site delivers will last a lifetime.

In the days since the site's launch, tweets like this one have been rolling in to the creators:

So maybe it's working.

Gotta run. Booking plane tickets.