[UPDATE: 108-year-old Olive Riley of Life of Riley died Saturday in the nursing home where she had lived for several years. I've not been able to access her blog, undoubtedly due to her many fans trying to visit. With the help of her friend, Mike Rubbo, she wrote a lively, feisty blog. I certainly won't be the only one who will miss her.]
[EDITORIAL NOTE: If you have not taken the Retirement Survey yet, please do. Information and links are here.]
Not meaning to tempt fate (for those who believe in such superstitions), it’s amazing, for a blog where old people have been hanging out for four years, how many of us are still alive. Or, from another point of view, how few of us are dead.
Hundreds on the Elderbloggers List - along with tens of thousands and more of us in the wider blogosphere - remain at our computers tapping out our rants and recipes, joys and sorrows, thoughts and ideas. Maybe blogging is good for longevity…
But all good things, including life and, therefore, our blogs eventually end. I was reminded of this when Joycelyn Ward, who blogged magnificently as Maya’s Granny, died in June. Her son-in-law posted a sweet story about Joycelyn at his blog. Her daughter, J, posted a remembrance at Maya’s Granny with photos from Joycelyn’s life and since then on her own blog, Thinking About…, she has continued to write about her mother as she works through her loss and her grief.
This sharing of stories and thoughts from Joycelyn’s family – perhaps it could be called a blog memorial service - has been crucial to her blog readers and internet friends. And we are friends even though most of us never meet in person.
That is an astonishing phenomenon of blogging – how close we become through reading our stories, comments, arguments, sharing laughter, lives and, when needed, commiseration.
With some, we move on to email, phone calls and the occasional opportunity to spend a little time together in the “real world.” But mostly it is our written words that connect us more closely than many expect when they begin a blog.
All that thinking we churn out, along with our individual writing styles are how we come to care about one another. Even if you are not trying to explain yourself on your blog, who you are comes through. I do not believe that any blogger who tried could maintain a false façade for long. Character cannot help but be revealed over time.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece trying to place blog friends among our concentric circles of attachments:
- Immediate family
- Closest friends
- Extended family
- Other frequent social contacts
- Work colleagues
Items on your list could differ in the middle, but we can probably agree that numbers 1 and 7 are properly placed, and wherever you list blog friends then, they too are people who would want to know when you die.
Not all of us have family members, as Joycelyn Ward does, who would think to publish an announcement of our death on our blog. If they are not bloggers, they may not understand how important we are to one another. Or they may not know how to do it. Or, particularly if they are non-bloggers, may not know what to say or how to say it. Death of a loved one is hard enough without having to figure out something new while grief itself is new.
We leave last wills and testaments to parcel out our belongings. Some design their own funerals or memorials. Others leave letters for loved ones to be opened upon their death. So why should we not also prepare a last blog post for our readers.
I first wrote mine about three years ago and I update it now and then which gives a good reason to look back over several months or a year to get an overview of what’s been happening at Time Goes By. And yes, it begins with, “If you’re reading this, I’m dead.”
It’s a good idea to note the location of your last blog post and place that information with the papers your survivors will need right away. Along with that, precise instructions on how to post it with ID and passwords are needed, detailed enough so that a non-blogger can work through posting it step by step.
Because Time Goes By is hosted on a fee service, I’ve directed that enough money be set aside to pay the host and domain registrar for a year. Those who blog on free services such a Blogger need not be concerned about their blog disappearing.
When a blogger dies, a community dies with it. Yes, we are interconnected through blogrolls and overlapping readership that extends infinitely outward, but each blog is a singular township too. It is peopled in the same ways of cities and towns with relationships ranging from nodding acquaintances to as tight as it gets. These relationships are, to me, of equal importance with real-life friends and we can, with a final blog post, remember one another in our death as we do now in life.
Although it may seem peculiar to attach social obligations to one's own death, a final blog post is the polite thing to do. If nothing else, it’s a chance to have the last word, and I’m not letting an opportunity like that get past me.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Peter Tibbles repeats some conversation from a long-ago romance in The Fillmore Variations.]