Dying In The Age of Social Media

by Eden on May 25, 2012

I have numerous stuff on my to-to do list that I’ve been dreading.

Cancelling cards, closing accounts, clearing the closet, cancelling the cell phone plan.

Its amazing how much work goes into clearing someone in this day and age of emails, facebook, electronic banking, etc.

Thank goodness my dad didn’t understand the concept of twitter or blogging. But its weird that I scroll through my phone’s contact list and I see “Aba” (what I called my dad) in there. Its weird that when I log into my gmail account on the computer here at home, I’m automatically in my dad’s email (he set it up that way).

It’s weird.

In some ways, its cool that the internet becomes an archive of who we were. But what happens when we die?

When we compose a will, we may ask for a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) request and we may choose a preference for our remains (funeral or cremation). Should we start planning how our Facebook profile or twitter account will be handled post-mortem just as we would decide who gets our stamp collection? (We still collect stamps, right?)

I miss my dad so much it hurts, but I’m very happy I’ve choronicled his journey through cancer here on the blog. I’m happy that my readers were “introduced to him” (even if it was virtually) and that I can just go through one of my old posts and remember a happy memory I shared with my dad. So maybe its not such a good idea to erase EVERYTHING online.  Maybe its not weird or tacky.

So if I die (not that I’m planning on it) please keep my blog alive but whatever you do, don’t instagram my funeral.

When it comes to instagram, stick to puppies (or any animals).

Is it too morbid to contemplate your untimely death when on social media sites (blogging, facebook, twitter, etc)? Will you really care what event invites you are sent when you are dead? Or when you die in real life, do you want to be completely dead online as well?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby May 25, 2012 at 4:15 am

When I die, I don’t really care what happens to me online or whatever. I would like my mom or friends to let my “online” friends know, simply because whenever a blogger disappears, I always wonder what happened.

And I’m sorry you have to deal with all the aftermath. It’s going to be a long road in terms of those cancellations and reminders, as the mail will still come to him, the calls, etc. But at the same time, it’s not “erasing” him from the virtual or real world at all. It’s simply closing one chapter of his life and moving on with another of your own.

Hugs.

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Lisa May 25, 2012 at 4:51 am

Take it slow getting rid of stuff…only when you’re ready. Except maybe the credit cards. :)

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Missy May 25, 2012 at 7:30 am

I dont think it’s morbid – I’ve wondered many times about it. Honestly, if I never tweeted again, no one would notice as im already almost completely dead online :). My main issue with all of these is that I need to write down my user names and passwords so someone can cancel them. I’d hope my husband would at least email my virtual friends to let them know!
Yes, all of the “undoing” that comes with death is a very long process – stuff you don’t think about comes up. That’s why wills and having people on place (name on bank account, etc) are so important. I’ve asked my Dad where all his important papers are and he’s added me on his account so I’ll be able to pay bills, etc. Ugh I hate to even talk
about it, but it’s necessary.
Hugs to you during this new difficult transition. I know how hard it is.

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rob fiasco May 25, 2012 at 8:08 am

just in case you become interested in updating your statuses for eternity….

http://www.onthemedia.org/2012/mar/23/updating-your-social-media-after-you-die/

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Eden May 25, 2012 at 9:53 am

Yep, heard that episode in the car and it was before my dad even passed away and I wondered about that.

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Nicole C May 25, 2012 at 9:03 am

I remember all this from October last year when my Grandma passed away. What’s really strange was checking her mailbox and getting a jury summons for her husband who passed away 31 years ago. So maybe we never really disappear, even in the non technology world. Her house has been compiled to one room but my Aunt isn’t ready to decide what to do with the house. The closet seems to be the hardest part. So, take your time if you aren’t ready and if you are, go for it.

As for me, I don’t really care. The only people that would care on facebook are the ones who already have my phone number anyhow.

Let me know if you need help with anything..

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Char @ www.charskitchen.ca May 25, 2012 at 9:31 am

I’ve seen this topic come up in the news. Some people like to be able to write on their friends’/family member’s Facebook walls after they die, and others find it really hard to move on when they can go & check out their page at any time. I don’t know…I haven’t had to really deal with that yet, so I’m not sure how I feel about it. I guess the whole thing is very personal for everyone.

I hope you’re doing okay <3 I'm so glad you have Lollie. She's so adorable!

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A May 25, 2012 at 9:57 am

I think this is an interesting point. During college, unfortunately fellow students I knew started dying and it was just really really hard looking at their facebook profiles because they were just frozen in time. I don’t really even like thinking about that time too much because the worst part was as the months passed, it was like school was moving on without them and their profiles were just stuck. I don’t know. I know some people like having memory groups, but I also know it can be really hard looking at it if it’s there.

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Megan @ Braise The Roof May 25, 2012 at 9:51 am

I don’t think it’s morbid to think about/plan for these things. It’s realistic and smart, and understandably on your mind right now. And I think you will really love that you have documented memories to look back on!

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cindylu May 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

I have a friend who passed away suddenly about five years ago. On his birthday, people still post on his FB page saying they miss him, still think of him. It’s odd, but it’s nice to know he’s never forgotten. I read Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield recently. It’s a memoir about his short relationship with his wife and her sudden death after a few short years of marriage. That was over ten years ago and he still gets junk mail for her.

I know there are services out there that will handle your digital footprint once you pass and certain email companies have their own policies.

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jack24 May 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm

neverv thought of it to be honest as long as i am remembered truthfully and with dignity is all i ask, you are doing this exactly for yoye daddy. love alwaysxxxxxxxxxx

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Lisa May 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I don’t think talking about this is morbid at all, its something all of us will eventually have to deal with. It must be hard going through your dad’s old things and seeing memories of him like that, but maybe that is a positive thing. It’s really great you’ll have these things to look back on in the future. I’m sorry that you have to deal with all of this. Hope you are doing well!

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Susan May 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I think about it all the time. I think about what would become of my blog if I died. I don’t want anyone exploiting it when I’m gone. It’s one of the main reasons why I never posted photos of myself bald while on chemo. Because if I died from complications, I didn’t want that to be the image people remembered me by. Really though, I mostly worry about leaving Buster behind. I HAVE to outlive that dog.

There is SO much paperwork and bureaucracy to deal with after a death. I hope you have some help. You would think that someone would have come up with easier ways to do all this since it’s always the distressed family members who are left to do it.

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Deb May 26, 2012 at 3:34 am

I hear ya. Sooo much work. I always said that if I had a job I’d hVe to hVe quit it after my mom died just to tie up loose ends. Plus there was some weird Facebook update on my dads page that turned out to be spam- it kinda freaked out my brother. And yes, I still have all of my dads phone numbers/email address in my contacts. I could get rid of them but don’t want to.

Remember about the clearing out- it is finite. Once you’ve done it, it’s done (redundant statement!) but then u don’t have to worry abt it. Do it as soon as it feels right. Then it’s not looming/causing dread. Sending u hugs from 6000 miles away <3

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