Friday, 7 February 2014

What happens to your cyberspace footprint, after you die?

Ghost bike memorial
-we keep passing them,
on our way to hospital cancer treatments.
What happens? That's difficult to say! Facebook requires complex Power of Attorney and Certificate of Death evidence in order to delete.

My happy hubby has his catheter out. I've managed over 2000km into and out of the city for his cancer assessment, diagnostic tests, pre-op, post-op, visits into the city. The last trip into the city, through a snow storm, was the drive through hell, passing this friggan' memorials, I tell you.
Hubby is on the road to recovery. We await his pathology report for next steps. Hopefully, all will be clear, but they cannot know for sure until they examine all the sectioned cells. Radiation might be next. We live in the present.

With my ex-husband's passing, from a sudden heart attack this week, this topic [Forbes article: What Happens to Your Data When you Are Dead?] is something I think about. His 2nd wife has dementia, and the kids are currently fretting over a placement for her, as she is unsafe living alone. Yep. Quite a week it has been.

I've had many blog buddies whose blogs have simply been left out there in cyberspace. One young man, age 24, was posting about his disease trajectory. He had stomach cancer. One of his close friends finally emailed me after he passed, as I had heard nothing and did not know of his passing. His posts simply stopped.

Being a hospice volunteer, I've thought about this issue, and still do not know what to tell my children. I've told them where I keep my passwords. I am a firm believer that we celebrate the day of birth, and life, not the day of death. I loather those ghost bike memorials on city streets. This isn't where one should remember someone, I don't think.
road-side memorial

On my blogs I've chronicled my journey through my career teaching, and shared some lessons learned (i.e., Tips for Parents with Children on the Internet). There is much being written about protecting our children. A new issue: protecting seniors from those who would prey on them on-line is another dilemma.

I've continued my personal research on senior healthcare, current information and best practices for those needing healthcare in Ontario (The for-profit healthcare sector is huge!), but eventually, this information will be outdated. What happens when I can no longer maintain it?

This memorial to Jacques Leblanc,
we also pass on the way to hospital.
It is creepy, as you contemplate your life.
He died here, age 22, on his motorcycle.
There are some good pieces I've written, which are timeless. Photos, however, are a nice record of a family. Our grandparents might have kept photos in photo albums, and data in ledgers, like Nancy's family, who settled in Lake of Bays in 1905:  Grandfather's Beach.

A friend of mine documented her journey caring for her husband  (WWII veteran) with Alzheimer's Disease: from managing his symptoms, to finally finding him a long-term care, and then the day he and his new girlfriend ran away! She had much support and encouragement. Once he passed over, she created a new blog about her recovery from grief, mourning and bereavement, as a widow. She is doing so well. Many, like Olga, shave shared their grief over losing a husband, and received much support. She wrote about cooking for one.

I also do blogs for two Habitat for Humanity groups. These photos are timeless and a part of the history.
My late father, late mother, and our family 1991
Ironically, my ex-husband's funeral is at this church.
He and his 2nd wife lived in the area.

The Bala Habitat build was amazing, I took photos on a regular basis. We moved away just before it was finished, but they sent photos!

In case of emergency, check browser history!
What do you think?


Anonymous said...

One of my winter projects has been compiling lists of places, passwords, user names etc and not just for the internet but the utilities, the household bills, the house etc. Having everything in one place will make it easier for someone to deal with all those things. The project continues.

Anonymous said...

One of my winter projects has been compiling lists of places, passwords, user names etc and not just for the internet but the utilities, the household bills, the house etc. Having everything in one place will make it easier for someone to deal with all those things. The project continues.

Christine said...

and of course I do clear browser history from time to time. Sorry to hear your hubby has not been well. And for your ex husband's passing. My daughter knows my passwords...who knows?

Red said...

I ask myself how you can hold everything together when all this has hit you. The passing of exes is something that people try to sweep under the rug. Much more has to be done in this area as there is a tremendous amount of grief and people try to ignore it.

The Furry Gnome said...

I've thought about this in terms of husband and wife. A good friend of ours lost her husband suddenly, and had no record of passwords for anything! Her husband had taken care of it all. A terrible burden to leave with her, when I know he thought he was being helpful by doing it all. She couldn't even access the computer to start with, let alone bank accounts or bills and other things. A lot to figure out. I plan to leave some instructions (though I'm not planning to leave for 27 years yet!).

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Read that article with great interest and of course your post... can feel the germination of a post or two of my own in response! As an immediate thought though, we need to remember that prior to the electronic age we had print. Less of us dared venture into hard copy because of the implied personal commitment; why should we think any differently with regard to (in our cases) blogging? Social record, be it through journaling, pictorial record, or fictional, is an important part of being human. Anne Franck may have thought her recordings were only her own. Are we grateful they turned out not to be so?

If what is left behind in the ether from my own trials and tribulations means anything to anybody after I am gone, all good and well. It matters not.

Your own contribution to knowledge and guidance will remain valid, Jenn. No matter how dated in some areas, it will always act as a springboard. Just like all writings in ages past and yet to come.

YAM xx

Hilary said...

You bring up a good point. I do know people (reasonably young ones) who would struggle with accessing their info if the husband were unable to help her. He is the keeper of the passwords (I suspect it's a trust issue as he never lets her create her own mail account). It's probably a good idea to compile passwords somewhere for next of kin. Something to think about for sure.

I don't envy your kids' task with their step mother. Never easy at any time but particularly difficult in their time of grief.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Definitely something to think about and I will. I'm in awe of how busy you are on the internet in addition to all else you do. Wow.

carol l mckenna said...

Powerful post ~ and death is a part of life ~ I have experienced death of many significant people starting when I was a young adult and I have learned much ~ thanks for this post and visiting my blog ~

carol mckenna and artmusedog

Kay said...

I have wondered what happens to a blog after a person passes away. I guess survivors could erase it. Otherwise, the blog would drift in cyberspace like a cyberspirit.

You have really had a hard week. I'm so sorry, Jenn. We've been rather stressed ourselves. My husband's good friend who we just saw in Chicago and who came to visit us here in Hawaii passed away suddenly with no warning. He didn't want us to know he had cancer.