Monday, June 15, 2015

Blogging and Death

I checked in on an old blogging buddy who wrote in his last post of April 7th that his lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis were definitely getting the better of him and that his docs had given him less than a month to live. He wistfully wrote that he thought he'd be around for his grandson's birthday and Memorial Day. But there were no updates or comments from him. He did say it would be his last post, but still, NOTHING. Roger and I were on his email list, the one he sent to his family and (real, not virtual) friends. The last email was sent on April 27th. Then, nothing.

On Sunday, I remembered his full name. He had once, years and years ago, in an act of kindness and compassionate generosity, made a CD of big band music for my mom. He loved that era of music and so did she. I remembered the emails we had sent, and I remembered his name, so I googled it. I found his obituary. He died on May 17. I went back to his last blog post and typed in a comment. I wanted to let his other blogging friends know that he was gone. I put in a link to his obituary. I ended the comment with, "Rest in peace, Alan."

Ah but poor Alan has comment moderation on, and that comment will sit somewhere in internet dark space forever and never see the light of day.

I know another blogger who has not updated her blog in several months. She was struggling with a difficult illness. Her blog also has comment moderation.

So, it made me think about what we should do at the end of our lives, in the event that we know our demise is imminent. Tell a trusted someone your passwords. Leave word about how to handle these beautiful online journals. Don't just let them languish without closure.

In my heart of hearts, I think we have created a community here in the blogosphere. I want us all to say our heartfelt good-byes in zeroes and ones that will last forever.

So, rest in peace, Alan.

30 comments:

  1. That's a good reminder. I'll add my passwords to my "In Case of ..." file, with instructions to my family to please update the blog and my Facebook page.

    No sense waiting until I'm incapable of doing this.

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  2. That's an awesome idea. I've seen where people were told how to finish a Facebook page for someone, but what about our personal blogs, photo albums, etc. I'll put that request with my will and tell my loved ones where to find them.

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  3. It is a good idea. What blog did Alan write? I used to read one by an Alan but I only read a few now and his wasn't one, if it's the same Alan (which obviously it may not be).

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  4. You've hit on something really important, Robin. I recently skimmed something about this topic and intended to read it more thoroughly, but set it aside and then lost it. Your post brought it back to top-of-mind. There is a real community community in the blogosphere that should outlast us all.

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  5. You make a really good point, Robin Andrea. Kali doesn't even know that I write a blog; she'd probably be surprised if I asked her to "close it out" as I was dying. My other best prospect (for a "close-out") is completely and utterly clueless about technology and computers, so that's a lost cause. Maybe I'll get my "with it" brother-in-law" to deal with it.

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  6. Susannah, Dave, Rain, and John-- I'm so glad that this idea resonates with you. Thank you for thinking it is important too. Alan's blog is Lost in A World Awhirl. Here's a link: http://lostinaworldawhirl.blogspot.com/

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  7. Ah, Alan. Such a kind human he was, and positive until the end. Sad thing is that he never told his wife that he blogged in the many years he did. He was certain she wouldn't understand or condone it. So it remained a secret. His family will never know the eloquence and beauty he shared with us. There's a lesson in there, somewhere. Rest in peace, sweet man.

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  8. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. My good friend also died of IPF last year (no cancer bonus, but the fibrosis was bad enough). xoxox

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  9. Annie-- I'm so glad you remember Alan. I never did understand why he didn't share his online blogging life with dottie, but he didn't. He really was an eloquent and kind man.

    kathy a-- So sad what happens inside our bodies sometimes, without our knowing before it's too late.

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    1. Of course I remember him, in fact I think he found you guys and Tara via Cozy Shack. I admit that it always made me feel sad to know he couldn't share his blog life with Dottie. I hope to die with no secrets withheld but I am sure that is not so simple.

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    2. Annie-- I often wonder how we find each other. Good to know Alan arrived via your blog. I wonder how he found you. I think Alan entered the 21st century ready to engage with an online community. I had the feeling that Dottie was uncomfortable with the whole thing. Alan had his secret life with his secret blog, and stayed with his wife for 40 years. I haven't thought about secrets for such a long time. I wonder if I have a secret that I simply no longer remember. Interesting.

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    3. Alan was part of a very early group of bloggers I kept up with, all mostly dispersed or disappeared now. I met you two on blog land not long after that. And the rest is history! My guy isn't the least bit interested in blogging, Facebook, etc. But he knows I do, and I can't imagine life as a couple otherwise. My kids all know of it as well, as did my father. I've always been too much of an open book, I fear!

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    4. True, I can't imagine keeping something like blogging or my Facebook presence a secret.

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    5. My husband used to refer to my internet friends as my "imaginary" friends, except he gave that up in short order, after I started meeting people in person, making various quilts, etc. He's not interested in participating, but I hope enough contact info is in my address book that somebody in each sector will hear if/when something goes south with me.

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    6. It always surprises me how "real" my "imaginary" friends feel to me! I will always be grateful that we had the opportunity to meet in real life. But even if we hadn't, I would feel just as connected to you. I hope there is a way for all of us to be kept apprised of each others' life events as they unfold. It's important and really kind.

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  10. I think you make a good point. You and Roger feel like old friends we have never met. I feel that way about others whose blogs I follow, too. In fact, I communicate with my online friends more often than I do my in-person friends, so I want to know how they're doing and what's happening to them.

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  11. If you have Google content, they've created a way to deal with it:
    https://www.google.com/settings/u/0/account/inactive

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  12. Mark P-- Yes, Roger and I feel the same about you and Leah, and other fellow bloggers out there who we've had an ongoing online friendship with for years. I've wondered about why we communicate more with online friends than we do with in person friends. Maybe because people in our real lives know how utterly boring we really are! LOL!

    Gin-- Thank you so much for that excellent link. I hope all of our blogging friends make a note of that so their blogs can be managed by a trusted friend.

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  13. Oh, sorry to hear about A. He became a blogging buddy of mine in the very early days. I had no idea he was ill. Yes, we should leave the internet password info with a trusted someone. You never know. I remember when another blogging buddy of ours died and we could get no further information. That was truly frustrating.

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  14. Yes. This is a community of kindred spirits.

    When I was a young girl, some of my friends had a penpal. I never had a penpal, but it seems to me that blogging is even better, in that we have a community of penpals. So many voices to hear.

    (Funny, the spelling function here keeps trying to change "penpals" into "pencils.")

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  15. Tara-- I wish I could remember which blogging buddy you are remembering. I had been keeping in touch with Alan over the years. He got sick in late 2012 and ran the medical gamut until he was finally diagnosed. In the comments here, Gin left a link to google that helps with accounts that are going to become inactive. It's an interesting site.

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    1. Our dear fellow in Mammoth. I can't remember his name. Long flowing white hair.

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    2. That doesn't ring a familiar bell at all. What did he write about? Is his blog gone? Or is he gone and his blog still exists? Tell me more.

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  16. am-- I had penpals when I was young. I had one friend in England and another in the Netherlands. We wrote for a year or more. I loved it. Yes, blogging reminds me of having a penpal. We shared truths about our lives in a way that we didn't do with the people sitting right at our sides.

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  17. You make a good point. I am occasionally left wondering about a blogger who suddenly disappears from the Internet. I would love to know what happened.

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  18. NCmountainwoman-- I am wondering right now about a fellow blogger who has not updated in several months. I would like closure and a chance to say good-bye.

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  19. I have stuff scattered all over the internet and should do something about giving passwords and instructions to someone. Actually, the thing that bothers me the most is thinking of my phase galleries eventually being wiped away when no one pays for the upkeep. I would like my insect photos to be there for many years to come. Finding someone who is tech savvy and wouldn't mind taking on the task is the tricky part.

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  20. Oh Robin, this post moved me to tears and the synchronicity ! Just a moment ago I check-in to Fallenmonk's (http://fallenmonk(dot) blogspot (dot) com/ blog to leave a message and found there link buttons to former posts and comment on July 12, two days after Trace had died. Finding those comments from George, Tara and others was such a comfort and a joy even. I agree with you about trying so save our traces online. It seems these days that so many of the Boomer generation are being carried away on the tide of dying. To that end I'm having published all the poetry I wrote over the past 15 years on line. Will let you know how that works out. peace, Michael

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  21. Bev-- I wonder if you could donate your pbase photos to a local university, county, or province government that might want the images for their records. They are such great images and should be preserved.

    Michael-- I think it's important to not let these online journals, poetry, and photos languish into anonymity. I think planning ahead is so important. I look forward to your info about the poetry publication. Last year I had the entire blog saved as a PDF. Maybe I should print that out. Mmmm.

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  22. Robin - some of my biologist friends have suggested such a thing. The bad thing is that I don't even have much faith in universities or government to archive things. A couple or so years go by and things start to get lost, tossed out, etc.. I have friends facing a similar dilemma with their years of field notes. I think the truth of it is that we can't expect everything to survive beyond us. Things may go one for awhile, but in time, unless someone takes up the task of preserving websites, online photo collections, and so on - they will gradually fade with time. Perhaps that's alright. I don't know.

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