My sister and I have a decidedly irreverent attitude toward death. We don't laugh in the face tragedy or at the passing of people we know and love. We're just cheeky as far as our own deaths are concerned. For example, every time I travel internationally, I scrawl a haphazard Last Will & Testament (usually on the back of a manila envelope). If we like a song we'll quip, "Put this on my death CD!" (The death CD is a collection of the deceased's favorite songs that gets handed out at the funeral). We do not do this to take the sadness out of death should it happen, but rather to take the fear out of it while we're living.
A few months ago, I experienced inexplicable, sporadic dizziness. Vertigo, if you will. I am not a hypochondriac, but when something happens to, you know, your brain (!) you can't help but be a little concerned. Was I about to have an aneurysm? I considered going to the emergency room but decided against it. Since I was not bleeding or having a heart attack, I knew I'd sit there for umpteen hours. I made an appointment with my doctor for two days later. It was the best he could do. By this time I was too distracted to work, so I thought about my life. I thought about the most recent Last Will & Testament I had given my sister. From what I recalled, it was exact. I didn't need to add or change anything.
On second thought, I did! I realized I hadn't given my sister any instructions whatsoever regarding my social media accounts. I live an active online life. There are plenty of people I'm friends with only through social networking. They need to know that I've died, too. I'd hate to have them think I defriended them. Not to mention, I don't want my accounts wasting cyberspace -- gathering e-mails and Farmville invites to no end.
I immediately got to writing -- giving my sister usernames, passwords, and instructions for each network. It was the perfect way to pass the time. I was laughing so hard at the ridiculousness of it all, that I forgot about the dizziness. I sent the document to my sister. She replied, "I'm glad you're laughing. I am not. Go to the doctor!"
In the end, the vertigo turned out to be nothing. I'm fine. But I sure did get my social media afterlife together. Here's a shortened version:
What to do with my Social Media Accounts in the Event of my Untimely Death
Tweet one last tweet and then close the account. The tweet will be short and sweet: "Sad News About Samara" [and link to the blog you'll write about my death. Instructions below].
Go through my friends and privately e-mail the ones who you think should know I've died. You'll do this for middle rung friends or one-time good friends -- not currently good friends like Jesse and Jenee who you'll have to call. This is for people like Melly and Jo. Use your best judgment. I'm sure you will.
Once you've told my nearest and dearest, then send a mass Facebook e-mail to everyone else. Word will probably have spread by then and people might be leaving condolences on my wall. You may not be able to e-mail all of my friends at once (I've never tried), in which case you'll have to do it through a status update. It seems odd, I know. Write something like this:
Hello friends of Samara. This is her sister, Andrea. I am incredibly sad and sorry to inform you that she has died. I realize this seems a harsh way to announce it, but I assure you that Samara and I discussed this method while she was alive. We talk about life and its many aspects on Facebook, and death is just another part of life. I have already informed her closest friends privately about this, and many of you may have heard the news by now. I'm writing this for those of you who haven't heard. Please stop by her blog, where I've written more: LetterLover.net.
After a few months, close the account.
If you need help, ask Dave. He can find his way around a Wordpress blog. Perhaps you could write everything in a word doc and e-mail it to him and he can post. Ask him to keep an eye on the blog and approve the comments for me (I get a lot of spam). It's okay for people to leave condolences here.
Blog Title: Samara Stroup O'Shea 1979 - 2010
Body of Blog: You'll have to write this one. Sorry. Start off by saying how I died, and assure everyone that I loved my life. I soaked up as much sun as I could (while wearing SPF 30, of course), and I took great pleasure in the little things. A bit of a eulogy can go here. Mom will help you. Invite everyone to look around and enjoy what I wrote while I was alive and blogging.
At the bottom is where you'll post funeral details / where to send flowers etc. Once the funeral has taken place and a few weeks have passed, delete the funeral details and just leave the eulogy/tribute. It's then up to you if you want to keep the Web site up and running. If, yes, you'll have to pay Register.com an annual fee (they offer discounts if you pay for many years at once). Otherwise, let it expire.
If you have any other trouble / questions about my Web site, contact Lorissa. She's my Web designer. She lives in London. She'll be sad to know I'm gone.
Hopefully most people will find out through one of the above channels, otherwise they're in for a depressing surprise when they e-mail me. You'll have to create an "Out of Office" type reply:
Subject: I Regret to Inform You
Body: I am sincerely sorry that you have to find out this way: I have passed on from this life. Know that I am grateful for the 30 years [change number accordingly] that I lived. Life is all things--exciting, blissful, painful, disappointing, challenging, and rewarding. As a writer, I relished in each emotion and attempted to put them all poignantly on the page. For more on my life and death, visit my blog [include link]. Please do not respond to this e-mail.
That about does it. Drea, feel free to go through my e-mails and print any that you find endearing or funny. After a few months, close the account. Thanks for doing this. I'll miss you!