Friday, August 13, 2010

Thoughts on Death and Online Friends

This may seem like a personal issue but I'd like feedback from people on this. I also know I wasn't thinking about this issue before and I think that other people might not have either.

Mr. Wacky found out yesterday that an online friend of his passed away about a year ago. His family didn't know about his online friends, didn't know how to tell them, or didn't see it as important. We'll never know which it was.

Another person I know recently lost an online friend to homicide. It was difficult for the victim's online friends to find out what was going on.

Personally, a friend on Lupus-L, now defunct, died many years ago. I was very grateful when one of her family members took the time to write to the list to let us know. However, I've been on a few email lists over the years and a loved one using a deceased member's email account to notify the list doesn't always go over well. Some lists are not open to all so it wouldn't be possible for a loved one to join to notify the list.

I've been thinking a lot about this. I'm not sure how best to handle it. Mr. Wacky and I have a very small overlap of friends. I don't have email addresses for all of my friends. I contact them on Facebook or other Social Media sites.

Then I tell myself I'm being obnoxious even thinking that most people would care. However, beyond notifying people there are practical things like making sure Mr. Wacky knows varying passwords for our accounts with the utility companies, the bank, etc.

I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome that has not been formally typed. I definitely am hypermobile but I have some symptoms of vascular involvement. So, being aware that I could suddenly die isn't completely out of line although I'm in my mid thirties. Health issues aside, we could be in a car accident or the roof could cave in tomorrow.

Mr. Wacky is computer literate but neither of my parents really is. So, whatever document I come up with about who to notify and how has to be very simple and explanatory at the same time. Plus, during the stressful time after a death even usually simple tasks can be overwhelming.

I have a fairly well organized password manager. I use Pastor on my Mac. Another option for many operating systems is KeyPassX. So as long as Mr. Wacky has the password to that he will have access to the passwords needed to do the basics. It seems I need to make a document that will live on the desktop of my laptop with that password and basic instructions. What do I put in that document, however? It is hard to anticipate everything. While we are both aware that I could have a fatal aneurysm tomorrow and are comfortable mentioning it, it isn't something I want to spend a lot of time talking about. While everyone I might think of notifying knows I'm sick, I'm not sure that they've all made the connection that I could die today due to my health. I don't know if they'd really want to be notified of my death. Somehow, asking on Facebook etc for people to send me their email addresses so I can add them to my death notification list seems rather crass and vaguely manipulative.

While the Social Security Administration allows burial accounts up to a certain amount, I do not have one. I really wish that I did but I know I will be disposed of as a pauper. That's mostly okay with me. I just wish I could do something to reduce the stress on Mr. Wacky and/or my parents.

I wouldn't want to be notified of a death via Twitter. Facebook seems a bit better but not much. Honestly, nothing seems ideal. What do you have in place for notifying those who care about you in case of your death or hospitalization? How would you want to be notified if someone you cared about died or was hospitalized? Also, have you done anything to make things easier for your next of kin in the event of your death?

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