I am in a virtual book club with my college alumnae office. One of the attendees is one of of my closest friends: the others are virtual strangers. Our only connection is by email: even though I see these people on Zoom- I would be hard pressed to spot them in a line up…

We don’t know one another

Recently, the coordinator of our book club sent out an email reminder.

Someone responded back: Person X passed away last week. She shared this email with her Husband. Please remove her.

Awkward, right?

Blogging buddy Tater wrote about a similar incident involving a fellow blogger…

In this virtual world where we know each other by emails and blog names and avatars, how do we pass along info that we’ve passed?

Do you have a death continency plan for your blog? Do you have an obit stashed away in your draft folder?

How about the people that you’re in groups with? Like a book club?

How do people find out about death these days?

I would like to think that my daughter would get onto my blog and post a note or something, but you know, does that work?

Claudette and I have a blogging buddy. She disappeared off the blogsphere about six months ago. We wondered what to do. She wasn’t posting a blog anymore…no instagram…no contact page on her website…

We talked to one another and tried to figure out if she was OK. She had underlying health conditions and worked in an essential worker job…

Was she OK?

SIck?

Worse?

Claudette and I emailed one another and had to figure out what was healthy and reasonable behavior for checking on someone you know, but don’t really know…

Do we contact her insta friends that appear to be in real life friends?

Or is that stalking?

What’s the line?

For today’s discussion:

How do we figure out if someone has passed, or if someone is incapacitated?

What are the new rules for this?

88 thoughts on “O B I T

  1. I’ve still done nothing to make sure someone posts on my blog if something happens to me. I’m not sure how to find out if something happens to a blogger friend. I’ve had a few disappear and it’s virtually impossible to figure out why.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Definitely interested in the responses you receive on this. I’ve often wondered about this myself. I’ve noticed a few older and/or with health issues bloggers I follow have page on their ribbon tab dedicated to ‘if you don’t hear from me in along time…that means…’
    And there are a few who have passed and their kids/other family members who are also bloggers have made a final post for the deceased informing the readers of that and then keeping the blog up, but closed to comments.
    And I’ve had bloggers just disappear, leaving me to wonder why and also wonder if it’s okay for me to wonder about a part of their life that is personal yet a mystery.
    Anyway. This is for sure a 2021 1st world problem, but still disconcerting!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow. This is a really appropriate topic during a pandemic. One that needs, wait… MUST be discussed.
    It home a bit since last January I went in for life saving cancer surgery. I wrote a blog about that on word press to alert people in case the worst happened. And while I was thorough on Facebook (where I have a large following of friends), people I actually know, or knew outside the virtual world, I made sure to have my youngest son give my friends there an update after my surgery. But I didn’t ask him to update my blog on WordPress. Perhaps, because all but two of my friends on this site I’ve never met in the real world. So I didn’t think of it. And that is an interesting dilemma. I made sure my real life friends knew. But what about my virtual friends?

    On Facebook I wrote a diary of sorts of updates and took pictures as I started my cancer journey. It alerted my FB friends to what I was going through. My local friends knew and many helped in bringing me food or taking me places when I was so ill. But not those in the totally virtual world. Not on Twitter or WP. On FB I had a network of friends I had gone to high school or college with and who had survived various types of cancer and so those people became a support system. The other FB friends also
    went with me for five months of pre surgery chemo, and then my son announced my successful surgery and snapped a picture of us in the hospital. This was pre planned by me. Because I knew they’d be calling and I’d be too weak too sick to answer.
    So…. If I lived or died I asked him to share the results. But the difference was that I Personally knew everyone on Facebook. After recovering from surgery, I had to endure many more months of chemotherapy ,which was brutal, and I was too sick to write on WP. On rare occasions I blogged an update on FB because my friends kept contacting me and were concerned. But people don’t do that on other sites. Even if they worry.

    So… you are correct. What is the plan for virtual friends? We do need to plan ahead. In the future I will let my other son, who is not on FB but on Twitter, know to do something with my Twitter account. And I will tell my younger son to state something on WP. It should be done.

    In a virtual world we are left wondering about our virtual friends. They become very real to us and we care about them too. On FB a friend I knew years ago in high school passed away suddenly. He and I both played in different rock bands while in high school and then reconnected years later via social media. While I battled cancer, he was ill trying to get a new kidney. We would constantly touch base on social media and the last thing he wrote to me right before the new year after he got his new kidney was that we both made it. That we would rock on in the new year. Only he didn’t get the chance, his new kidney failed. Because he didn’t have kids his niece let me know. And wrote something on his FB page for all his friends. His FB friends from high school and I were devastated. We had not only known him as a young man, but reconnected with him years later on social media and grew to love the guy. He was a fighter for peace and justice and a quiet warrior with his health battles, but he always brightened our day. A virtual loss is real. I had t seen him in over 50 years but we wrote almost daily. I cared about him and the loss was real.
    *We do need to let our virtual friends know when something happens to us. They care. Virtual friends become real friends.

    LA this is a really thoughtful post. Thank you for making us all aware!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. 💗I hate when bloggers just disappear off the map. It makes me sad because I really grow to like and care about their lives. But, if I don’t hear from them, how intrusive do you want to be? I don’t know what the right balance is!

      Like

      1. I followed a woman that was in a committed threesome in Australia, her last post was about falling into a major depression..it has crossed my mind that there was an awful outcome…But I’ll never know, she had two blogs that ceased..,the other was a very cool comic about a penguin named Arthur Puddles 😥

        Liked by 1 person

      2. See…that’s what I mean…you want to know they’re ok, or whatever. We meet people via blogs and we become invested in them

        Like

  4. Good question , LA. I’ve thought about this occasionally. Facebook users usually have someone who knows how to access their account and let’s their FB friends know. It’s certainly appreciated by the friends of the deceased. I know I do wonder if a fellow blogger is all right when they suddenly stop blogging. Very occasionally, I reach out to them and ask through their email address which is associated with their site (as you know!). I would very much appreciate knowing, and intend to have my son with blogging experience post something if I disappear” while still blogging.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh good! I am glad you’ve given that some thought. I have “known” other bloggers as well as I know you and I would hate to have you drop off the map and not know..

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Some bloggers don’t have their emails in their contacts, which I understand, yet I would like the ability to just say “hey…all good?” Because we do become entwined with each other’s lives

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Well, that’s a gloomy thought. No, I don’t think it’s stalking to check up. People drop off the radar for all sorts of reasons and if you have details it’s OK to contact them.

    My own arrangements are chaotic or non-existent. I really must do something about it. However there’s no rush. Although I could well die this afternoon – I’m 62, overweight and just had cheese on toast for lunch- it’s not really my problem, so why worry?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. But is IS your problem. I set up my burial plans long before I learned I had cancer. I didn’t want my children to be burdened. People die. After my husband died of pancreatic cancer at age 55 it was a rude awakening . He was dead in a matter of months. I was not going to put my children in such a stressful dilemma. So I planned everything and set up a monthly payment plan. It’s done. They don’t have to stress during their grief. It’s the grown up thing to do. And so Is letting the virtual world know.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. I have wondered about this more than once! It is a good question. I would hate for someone to just disappear and me to never know why. I have thought of giving my husband my password for my blog and letting him post, but then I think of what a burden I am placing on him to have him have to write about my demise? So I thought that my husband could contact some mutual friends that we know that are bloggers, and they could post about me on their blog,, and that other mutual friend bloggers could post the information on his blog on theirs, and in that way spread the word.
    It is rather morbid to think about but it is a reality, we aren’t going to be here forever!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m assuming my daughter would think to do it,and she knows how to get on my blog, but I have the same question: is it too much of a burden to ask your loved one to do this?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have been wondering about this also. There is a blogger that has health issues, and works with the public and has not posted in months, I tried to email but no answer so we are left wondering. I can’t think of a way to let people know, but then do you wonder if people would notice(well people would notice you not posting) do you think you have made enough of an impact. Would people really wonder or care past a month? That sounds depressing, sorry.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think we all leave an impact on someone, but I don’t think we always think we do…the whole “it’s a wonderful life” thing…but I would want to know what happened to blog friends. I’m very dismayed about the blogger friend who just disappeared. I really liked “talking” to her every day and it’s a little sad that I have no idea what happened

      Like

  8. Good subject to discuss. I wondered about that years ago with friends who had reposed on FB. I kept them as friends for several years before I finally unfriended them, but their profiles/walls were still up. I would think family members would want to deactivate their accounts. Now they have a legacy thing on FB where you assign somebody to handle your account. I’ll have to find someone to do that for me just in case. I hadn’t thought about my blog until reading this. Thanks for the reminder and heads up. I am not sure, but it seems I’d do the same thing as I do with my other accounts, and assign someone to take care of it whenever I repose. Thanks for the important question.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My best friend from high school passed a few years ago. She wasn’t in good terms with her brother at the time, so her page is still up. I can’t bear to unfriendly her (she had a difficult last few years of life and was estranged from most of her friends, myself included) so it’s tough

      Like

  9. Very good question. I have no arrangements for this but since my blogging is pretty erratic anyway I imagine people would just think I wasn’t posting anything 😉. I don’t think it’s stalking to check up on a friend though – even if you’ve never met in real life.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Wo..heavy stuff. First off, if a week went by with no post from you I’d assume you and Betty were in the slammer. You were walking down the street in NYC, happened upon some crime in process, got involved..Betty took a mini-chunk outta someone’s leg and next thing you know you were both in the paddy wagon headed off to some pet-friendly jail. (Just imagine the ideas for future posts..) But no- in all seriousness.. if your posts suddenly stopped..what could I possibly do? Years ago, I followed a woman on wordpress who basically quit her job in Canada, sold her stuff and moved to Egypt with her daughter. At first, there were all these interesting posts with pictures..and then nothing – ever again. I’ll never know what happened there.. While we knew quite a bit about each other..we didn’t have enough of each others’ puzzle pieces to help if needed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You know…for some reason I always write posts that engender a lot of responses on the days when I’m the busiest….but yeah…I think that’s exactly what would happen…Betty and I fighting the wrongs that are out there…getting in trouble…two scrappy underdogs…😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Literally I can see it in my mind’s eye.. it would be so appropriate for the times, wouldn’t it? New York City, a pandemic, general mayhem and a super-hero mom and her pup who have simply had enough. It would be great..

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I have thought of all of this too but truly have no game plan of my own. I have had several Facebook friends who I actually know that have passed and maybe I’m weird but it freaks me out a bit when their family posts things on their Facebook page on birthdays or memories. I even had a deceased friend like a post of mine one day!! So on Facebook, I unfriendly my deceased friends so they don’t pop up through family or Facebook memories. Now for blogging, I would have no clue. I’m not sure how I would know or what my response should be. The same with Pinterest. I also never thought of who gets the gift (🙄) of my blog when my time is up.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ll be interested in other answers, too. My niece would probably take care of letting others know my condition (dead or dying) on my blog, because she works for WordPress. My husband or daughter would probably think to alert people I email all the time. I think a daughter would take care of Facebook. That’s the list for me. I presume you should be very sensitive when trying to find out about someone you don’t know well.

    I think one of my favorite bloggers from several years ago must have died, because he mentioned taking time off. He didn’t post for a few months, came back for a few, and then nothing. Sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. If I have a personal email for someone, then there is a good chance I will check in with them if I haven’t heard from them in a while. I was in a group a while back. At the time, I had an online shop and one of our members had bought something from me to send to her mother. Because of that, when a tornado tore through the area our group member lived in and we hadn’t heard from her, I agonized over digging through the personal contact info I had to check on her. I eventually did and her mother seemed really happy to know that her daughter had people that cared enough to check on her. It was really awkward and weird and I was glad I’d done it, but other people wouldn’t have handled that as well. I honestly don’t know how my Hubby would handle all my online stuff as we haven’t talked about it. I know he would inform those I’m connected with on FB, but I’m not sure he would take the time to mention anything on my blog, probably because he might not even think about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If I have a personal email I have no problem emailing, but I’ve noticed so many bloggers don’t have emails or contact pages. My husband never thinks about social media, so it wouldn’t cross his mind to let people know.but I always feel a little sad when a blogger drops off and I winder if something happened

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A couple of weeks ago I received a notification from Google to set up my “Inactive Account Manager”. I had never given any thought to what would happen to my Google account if I was incapacitated or worse. It definitely never crossed my mind to put anything in place for my Yahoo email account, my FB and Twitter accounts, and certainly not my blog. When configuring my Inactive Account Manager on Google, it gave an option to provide an email address of someone you would grant access to or to simply have Google shut down the account after a specified period of inactivity. I reluctantly submitted my husband’s email but also set up a notification for a year from now to confirm whether I still want him to be granted access or to change my options.
    I am far more squeamish about letting him (or anyone) have access to my blog. However, I agree there needs to be some protocol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve never heard of this before. I totally understand why they’re doing it, but I also understand your thoughts on the procedure/policy. There are all these things we need to learn how to navigate and I’m not sure what the right and wrong things are

      Like

  15. One of my favorite bloggers went off the grid for about a year. I wondered what happened to her. One day she posted that her mother was seriously ill and she had to stop everything to care for her, then Covid 19 hit (she’s a physician). She hasn’t posted since. I don’t think the nature of blogging requires an explanation for being MIA, though it’s nice. As for my obit, I’ll leave that to others.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I might have already posted this but it looks like it disappeared so I will post it again. LOL!
        I do hope you find out what happened to your friend. I would be sad too! Does she still have her blog up at all? Just old posts? I thought perhaps you could message other commenters even if you didn’t know them. Just a thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I understand. It’s awful when someone drops off the face of the earth. But sometimes, I feel that I need a tiny break and don’t want to feel the obligation of explaining myself. Do people really care that much? Am I flattering myself to think they do? I’m blogging because I love it, yet sometimes other things take precedence. I recently took the longest break ever to work on an online writing project and didn’t want to be distracted, lose focus. It would be different for you because you blog every day. And once awhile back when you did stop for a few days because you were sick, I was very worried about you, relieved when you came back.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s just it. When I took two weeks over the summer, I got so many emails…I’d like others to know if something happened, and vice versa. I get that we sometimes need time…but…I’d like to know

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Unfortunately, I have not made a lot of blogging friends so I will not be missed. But I hope my kids will read my blogs and smile at the memories I have written about their childhood, their teenage. I started this as a parenting blog and it morphed into different things but one of them is sort of a memory keeper of my children’s growing up years. Great post. It made me think.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Interesting. My kids know I blog but I don’t think it would occur to them to try and get on and explain my absence. My husband is not computer savvy so that would never happen either. I suppose I could write something down for the kids as a “just in case” scenario. Maybe I never thought of myself as significant enough for people that I’ve never met to worry about what happens to me. I thought of Lesley when I was reading this because I knew of her condition and even though I am not one of her “followers” I know she often commented on your posts and hadn’t seen her for a long time. Glad to see her back.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Such a good question. As a care giver to my cancer riddled husband, I sometimes worry about this on his behalf, but I also experience it myself in that my blogging is sometimes paused due to his need for care in a crisis (like the one we are just recovering from). When I finally post again, I can almost feel the sighs of relief from my small cadre of blogger buddies. I really don’t have an answer to how find out about your friend, but I do think we should all have contact information on our blogs …which ironically I don’t have but need to!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Great topic for discussion. I’m not going to weigh in on this one because I really want to think it through. My brother made a loose leaf notebook with important information and his wishes. This was invaluable when things did not go well after a procedure and he passed away. He was a thoughtful in his approach to death as he had been in his approach to life. I think how to handle digital friends and acquaintances would be an appropriate topic for inclusion.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Interesting question, as ever, LA. 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer while being a member of a couple of online communities. I had friends in both communities who remained in the loop, so I never had to consider how any negative outcome might be shared. At around the same time, I met & fell in love with someone who also had cancer. As I suspected might happen, he died before there was time for me to become known to his circle. From some email round-robins, I identified a friend of his who would know, but wasn’t so close they’d be likely to grieve heavily. After a period of assuming, I made contact & had his death confirmed. Would I have appreciated it if he’d made arrangements for me to be informed? Of course, and I’ll admit being hurt & upset at the time that he hadn’t. But I now understand it was a lot for him to ask of others who’d be grieving themselves. I think our desire to know shouldn’t be allowed to trump the feelings of others. Something I was introduced to during my cancer treatment was the concept of support/care circles. In the middle you have the patient, then you have their immediate loved ones, next wider family, then a circle of close friends, next a bigger circle of other friends/acquaintances, another of work colleagues, and so on… The rule was that offers of support went from the outer circles inwards, with requests for help coming from the inner circles outwards. Other than practical or legal requirements, I think we need to keep in mind the emotions of others who are in closer circles than we are. I’ve no plans to place a requirement on Himself or my daughter to deal with my blog or my social media. I am putting together a useful info file which will include computer & email passwords as that is where much useful information is stored. But that would be for their convenience & ease, not to add to the weight of their obligation. Of course it is sad when people we get to know virtually disappear – but I think that’s the nature of the online world, and it’s something to get used to.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s certainly the risk. These days I’m rather more mindful of online connections, and restrained in my expectations of the connection, but I enjoy them too much to do without completely.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. But a better way for who? If you overload bloggers with unwanted & unsought responsibilities – especially those bloggers for whom blogging is simply a pleasant & enjoyable pastime – you could drive them away from blogging altogether. I think boundaries apply in blogging, as in life. Some have firm & fixed ones, others have looser ones. There’s always going to be those who want more (& give more) & those who want less (& are prepared to give less). Forcing those who want less to give more is likely to result in their complete withdrawal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ok…My best friend from high school passed away like seven years ago. She was estranged from her brother at the time. Every year Facebook sends out a reminder to say happy birthday to her. There are people who don’t realize she’s dead who still comment on her page as if she’s alive. Facebook won’t do anything with the page.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, social media can be tough on that score. It took the family of that man I mentioned about 5 years to get his FB profile taken down, which is absurdly inefficient. And what a burden on his family to have to jump through so many hoops to get it removed. I imagine it proved too complex a task for whomever was your best friend from high school’s executor to get it done. It’s a good example of what I mean about the burden on those left behind. But this discussion has made me think of adding my FB account’s password to my “useful info” file for when I’m gone, so family can choose to delete the profile when they’re ready – so my thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s the whole virtual world, like the woman I was in a virtual book club until she passed. We had no way of knowing that she died…I just wonder what the modern obit should be

        Like

  22. Hmmm. Wow, interesting, LA. I once actually emailed a blogger when they hadn’t posted in a while. I had no issue doing it, and they didn’t mind, however, what you are pointing to is a system issue. Will need to reflect on this one more. Do we create a system or network where someone is responsible to let other bloggers and followers know about a fellow-bloggers passing? I like this question and will continue to ponder it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, agreed. Right now, I’m not sure either. Still reflecting. Hmmm. Yes, that is also true about hacking. I’m also not sure that a company, like WordPress, would actually take the lead on something like this. Grassroots development by clusters, or cohorts of bloggers, would probably be a possibility.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. I’ve told my goddaughter to let everyone know. She knows where my passwords are. I also told her to shut everything down within six months. It’s weird to go to a social media page and the person is deceased (I think).

    I’ve also been in a similar situation that you’ve described. A mutual blogging friend had cancer. She was also in the Daddy book. One of our friends wanted me to use her address (because I had it from the Daddy book release form) to find out how she was doing. I refused. I thought it was unethical. She obviously either didn’t want us to follow up on how she was, or she had died. Either way, I thought it inappropriate to reach out in all of the ways just to ease our fears, you know?

    Lastly, I used to follow a blogger with mental health issues. Her sister popped on one day and said the lady had committed suicide. Do you know I cried??? Right there at the desktop, I was overcome with these unexpected emotions for some lady I’d never even met in person.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally get that! Even though we’ve never met, I’ve formed some very nice bonds with a few bloggers, you included. I often think about things you’ve written and quoted stuff you e said. I’d want to know if you weren’t ok…but I don’t know how we do this. There are all these new things to navigate and I’m not sure how to do it

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s