When Social Networking Reaches Out from the Grave

Please note:  While Colleen Kelly Mellor works feverishly on her tell-almost-all book, Patient Witness, about her lifelong interaction with the medical industry (you’ll howl with laughter at some/ be properly piqued at others), she will post to this blog on Mondays only…

death row diary****Pictured is Death Row Diary’s William Van Poyck…He lost his bid for pardon but his blog just took a major award.  He got it posthumously.

Yes, it happens.  You’ve gotten over the death of a dear friend and then, there it is on your Facebook page–the reminder:  “It’s Sarah Jones’s birthday today.”  Why does that smart?  Sarah died two months ago.  This all got me to thinking:  “Why doesn’t Facebook have an app that kicks on (and deletes the account from ‘active status’) when the person kicks the bucket (sorry!)?”

I mean, if their“Happy Birthday” reminder appears—after the death of that person–such notification seems cruel.

Sarah succumbed to ALS last year.  I hadn’t seen or heard from her in years, and like so many of us, we reconnected via Facebook. She’d been a friend of mine, from a former era, when we both lived in the same neighborhood, in Rhode Island, for many years.  Then, we lost touch with each other.

It was only shortly before her death that I learned where she was.  She lived in a modest home in Florida, ironic in that she’d lived in a huge, rambling Victorian in Edgewood, Rhode Island, when I knew her.

Sweeping verandahs seemed to go with her. After all, she was a Southern lady.

In another instance of irony, her partner was a retired trucker–like mine.

I recall Sarah’s hearty laugh and madcap adventures: She hosted crazy pre-hurricane parties (where we drank so much we were lucky the storm never really hit); she put on her famous annual Kentucky Derby Party  for which she’d grown her own mint leaves for months, then marinated them in her special recipe, and then marinated all of us with her special concoctions, in frosted metal glasses. She mandated we ladies “Dress appropriately” by wearing wide-brimmed hats. 

She was there for me, too, when my family went through the awful saga of my husband’s terminal illness.

Her death, in her mid 60’s, made me sad, indeed, for it wasn’t just premature. She didn’t go easily (ALS is not one of the Preferred Ways to Go.)

So, the ghoulish Facebook reminder that it was Sarah’s birthday hurt.

But hers wasn’t the only Social Network Faux Pas I’d experience this year.

There were the e-mails to me from a woman friend in her 80’s who died rather suddenly (if there’s any such thing as ‘suddenly’ when one’s in her 80’s!)  Vi had been a spark plug, the igniting switch in almost any social gathering, the kind of person who has almost too much energy cooking, at any given time.

After her death, I kept receiving e-mails… purportedly from her….a whole series of them. I gotta say:  I didn’t dare open them.  I didn’t know if it were a ghoulish trick on the part of someone else, or one from her that she’d set up to run, just before her death, signifying “Got you!” “Just thought I’d check in with you to make sure you’re doing OK.”

However they came, they just weirded me out.

You see, I don’t think Vi was tech-savvy enough, to pull off future e-mail delivery the way we blog runners set up future posts (I’ve got 20 on the runway, so if you get something from me, after I prematurely pass on, you’ll understand.).

I do recognize that some folks keep the last message from a loved on (this especially happened in calls from loved ones in the towers on 9/11).

However, it’s disconcerting to get messages from the grave…whether Facebook or e-mails. Just sayin’…

***Now, here’s a unique twist on my above post:  A diary blog from a convicted killer on Death Row. His truly Last Installments will be posted by his sister, post (his) mortem, since they already executed him.  But he has quite a following as blogs go.  Then, again, he’s got a specific Niche Market (in his case, it’s People Who Follow Death Row inmates). I spoke about the importance of identifying niche markets in a recent blog post.

What do you think?  Have you gotten these after-death e-mails or ghoulish “Happy Birthday” reminders  for one who’s deceased? What’s your opinion on Death Row Diary (he sounded pretty articulate, don’t you think?)

But forget about following him.  As I said, he’s “Gone”….

I’m still here….

****And if you wish to be assured of future Biddy Bytes posts, “Subscribe” in upper right hand corner of my blog.  I promise:  Your e-mail address will never be shared…..


About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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