Friends in Heaven

Dec 22, 2011

Have you ever wondered what you want done with your social media account when you are no more? We now live our lives communicating, sharing and ‘being’, on one or more social media platforms. A digital presence is often an integral part of our identity. So when some one close passes on, what is the right way to deal with their social profile?

Some may think the appropriate thing to do is to deactivate the accounts, as a form of closure.  There are those who could even find it unnerving to share virtual space with those not living. There are real and imagined worries about privacy and/or security threats. While some, may want to keep the accounts going; as a memorial; or even as part of the grieving process.

Facebook’s stand, according to the Wikipedia article on ‘Death and the internet’ :

to turn the deceased user’s profile into a memorial, “as a place where people can save and share their memories of those who’ve passed.”Memorializing of a profile involves: the deceased user no longer showing up in the “Suggestions” box on the right-hand side of the homepage; the privacy setting is altered so that only confirmed friends can view the profile and search for it; contact information & status updates are removed; no one is able to log into the account in the future

Fellow Montrealer, Adele McAlear has some interesting posts on her blog on digital legacy.

My friend, Tony Abraham’s Facebook profile seems to be as active now, as it was when he was with us. His wall displays a fresh post each week.

On his wall, some of Tony’s friends talk about him, some talk to him.

He is occasionally invited on trips and reminded of good times past.

Tony's Facebook Page
His wife Loretta, recently posted a moving poem on his wall.

Tony Abraham RIP
Tony Abraham


The lights are blinking merrily
The tinsel’s on the tree
It sits there in the window
For all the world to see.

So hold a place in heaven dear
Someday when life is through
I’ll be the Christmas angel
Who shares this day with you.

 By: Marilyn Ferguson. Complete poem here

Even though it was almost 16 years since I last met Tony, the passing away of a childhood friend was an obvious shock. Tony suffered a fatal cardiac arrest, early April 2011. This happened at an airport in Hongkong, enroute to India, from a business trip.

He was 43.

I find the activity on Tony’s page heart warming.  The virtual candle burns bright. Its brightness, a testament to the strong connections Tony made. Friendships he founded.

Maybe as his friends, we resist letting go. Perhaps those bits and bytes on his Facebook wall, help us feel connected to Tony even now. A logical extension of the mourning process, in this digital age.

Social media use seems as relevant to coping with grief as it is to revolutions. The yearning for a better life is as much a human condition as the heartache of losing a dear one.

Tony’s Facebook posts when he was alive, consisted of the occasional joke. Evidently, his interactions were far deeper where it mattered most. In the real world.

Perhaps an example to many of us as we celebrate the people in our lives, this holiday season.

Happy holidays all. Have a Merry Christmas!

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