Last Acts of Kindness
Medicare Changes for 2012

When Blog Friends Go Missing

Like much younger people who participate in blogging and other social media, we elders have online friends who are every bit as important to us as those we know in “real life.” A difference, however, is that we have a greater expectation at our age of disappearing from the web whether temporarily or permanently.

A few years ago, I wrote about my final blog post titled, If You're Reading This, I'm Dead, because it is a terrible thing for our blog friends and acquaintances to be left hanging with no explanation.

I suggested then, and do so again now, that you write that final post. You can place information about where it is stored with the papers your survivors will need right away. Along with that, you should leave precise instructions on how to post it with ID and passwords that are needed, detailed enough so that a non-blogger can work through posting it step by step.

It would be good, too, to leave a note about how important this is to do because it's my experience that people who do not blog or do not read blogs regularly enough to know the depth of friendships that grow also do not understand how much a part of our daily lives it is and might ignore or put off posting our last story.

Until now, I had thought about this only in the context of bloggers dying. Then, yesterday, an email arrived from a friend and regular contributor to The Elder Storytelling Place, Nancy Leitz. Here is what, in part, she wrote:

”I have been thinking that there should be some sort of registry for bloggers and storytellers.

“Sometimes I wonder what would happen if all of a sudden YOU did not post anything and we had no idea what had happened to you. Or, if weeks went by and there were no comments from me or any new stories. Would you know who to contact to find out what had happened to me?

“We make very good friends with people on our computer and yet we do not have a way to contact a family member of theirs in case of emergency.”

Nancy is correct, of course. It's not just about dying. Now and then we might suddenly disappear from the web due to illness or accident and a hospital stay leaving everyone to wonder.

Plus, there are many friends among us who, like Nancy, do not keep their own blogs but do participate in sites like The Elder Storytelling Place either as contributors or regular commenters and at TimeGoesBy as commenters but it would be unlikely that spouses or friends would think to tell us what has happened.

Nancy is suggesting the registry for bloggers, storytellers and readers who comment regularly. It would not need to be elaborate, just a listing that would be something like:

”I sign my stories and/or comments [name you use]. Please contact my [husband, daughter, son, friend, etc.] at [email address]. He/she will know what is happening with me.”

This is an excellent idea. It doesn't work for the general World Wide Web but it is useful for individual blogs like The Elder Storytelling Place (ESP), Time Goes By or any other one.

Nancy has offered to be the keeper of the registry my two blogs but I wonder if or how people would know to contact her when someone's name hasn't been seen for a while. I could keep the list here, but it should not be a public page where scraper sites can be stealing email addresses and driving our relatives nuts with more spam.

So I'm calling on readers who have more security expertise than I do to help devise a way to keep such a registry. How would I do that on this blog and/or ESP?

Is there a place somewhere online where I could create a space for people to sign up for the registry on their own that is searchable by those who have their own listing?


Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jeanne Waite Follett: Of Sharks and Rainbows and the iPad 2


I have no idea about how to keep a registry, but it sounds like the seed of a good idea. We are at an age where notice peers gone missing.

I do not have the expertise to offer any suggestions but I do want to offer my thanks that you have included those of us who do not have a blog or write for ESP. I do not comment often but everyday I read TGB and many of those who comment here. You all inspire and inform me.I am saddened when someone drops out of sight and will often return to their blog in the hope that they are only taking a vacation.

This may or may not be a practical solution.

On Blogger (the only one I'm familiar with), you could open a separate blog entitled something like "If You're Reading This, I'm Dead," and set the controls to allow only invited contributors to read. We would then request to become contributors via a designated email link posted at Time Goes By. When we received permission, we could then go there and post our information, view others. A link to that blog could be placed discretely in a sidebar here at TGB.

When new bloggers arrive and read/comment regularly, they typically apply to have their website included in the TGB blogroll. In the acceptance email, a link to the private blog could be provided and they could be invited to participate in it.

Then, if someone turns up missing, we could use that blog for queries and as well as to access information.

There's a group blog I belong to that uses this private blog system very successfully.

Not sure if this makes sense, but let me know if I can answer any questions.

My husband has my password and I'd trust him to let people know. The people I have known online who did just stop often have had someone (usually family members or close friends) put in a comment as to why which is easy to do even if they do not have the passwords.

I think it's considerate to let readers know but personally won't be signing up with any registry nor writing a last post to be used in the event. I have no idea what might happen to me if I did quit or was forced to by death; and so would leave whatever got said up to survivors in the family who know about the blog, like my kids.

Whenever I won't be posting for awhile and I know it, I do notify readers. IF I had a fatal illness, I'd definitely tell them but death does sometimes come very rapidly when we didn't expect it; so it's good to have someone set up to be willing to notify those who read the blog but it can easily be done through comments if that person does not have the password. There is one blog I have read for a long time and literally it did just stop with no words left behind. I likely will never know for sure about it. I kept it on my second blog list of blogs I read and do check once in awhile to just see. You know sometimes it happens because people lost access to their computers or the blog home. I like to think that's what is when it's an abrupt end with no answer for while; but I have seen enough blog deaths by now to know it's not always the case.

This is a good idea, because unlike some teens whose photos appear on milk cartons, we are not likely to be missed except by family and friends. Dianne

What an excellent idea! We have a friend who died unexpectedy in his early 60's and nobody has his password.

I'm giving my password and a document to my sons. In a few years I will give it to my granddaughter too. One is sort of an obit and the other (God forbid) is if I become disabled in some cognitive way.

I would imagine that there is now or soon will be a way to continue blogging after death. It might involve annual fees that could be paid via a trust. It could consist of a collection of blogs that would be written before death and then published periodically in random order.

I have no idea how to accomplish a registry without compromising personal data, but it's a great idea. There are already some suggestions, and I hope there's a computer geek on TGB or a related blog with the experience to let us know what's safe and what isn't. I'm "cyber-leery", I guess, but there are SO many ways to have one's identity stolen and get ripped off by unscrupulous characters.

What you have shared has come to my mind often. I have only been writing 4 years but the special friendships are so dear to me. Some with me since my first post.
My daughter is a writer and has a blog and I have told her to write an entry on my blog if something happens to me. I know she did this 2 years ago when I had unexpected surgery. Had to call 9ll in the middle of the night for a gall bladder that was about to rupture.

When I was in the hospital from chemo complications, my son posted on my blog. He has my log-in and passwords for my blog and Facebook. The registry is a great idea. I've thought about this and wondered what to do if and when such things happen.

This has promted me to write to find out how Mort Reichek is doing. We've lost some good bloggers in the past few years.
Mort's excellent blog was just left hanging after an accident. His wife DID post an entry to let us know what happened to him but he never came back to the keyboard.

Regarding Mort, please see this post from last week.

I have had blog friends disappear over the years, but one still puzzles me, because there was no warning, and she was one of my first commenters. Her blog was entitled Saz Says, and I think about her often.

My children have both been bloggers, and they know how to access my blog. I have asked them to let my friends know if something happens to me.

Ronni--Thanks, so much, for letting us know about Mort. That's what I call a happy rest-of-the-story! (But not the last-of-the-story, thank goodness.)

My husband knows my passwords. When i had a stroke on Good Friday this year, he posted about what had happened to me. We had not talked about this earlier, but he knows how much my blogging relationships have come to mean to me.

I was so thankful he posted periodic updates until I could get back to posting. I am sporadic with posts and commenting, but I know now that he would post if something sent me MIA permanently or temporarily. Ronni, your post and the comments have made me realize I need to alert my blogging offspring to post if neither hubby nor i could post.

Thank you for posting about this topic. It reminded me of a site I read about called Death Switch. It apparently alerts people when you die; you can have letters ready to be sent; passwords stored; etc. I don't know the cost or all of the particulars, but it sounds worth checking out.

What a wonderful idea a Registry is. I do not know how to set one up so that spammers and scrapers cannot get the info but I hope you pursue the idea to fruition.

Your post made me think of a family friend and blogger who recently passed away and I have wondered a few times what happened to his blog.

Nancy has some really good ideas, and that is one of them. I have a post title at the top of my post list on the dashboard, and the working title of it is: "to be posted in the event of my death." I am going to write that post and then show my daughter how to post it when I am gone. I'm procrastinating,

I am new to blogging and very new to commenting. But I have been dancing around death for a while now and getting ready to tackle it as a topic for discussion from my end. Thanks for raising the issue of accountability. I often feel so transient that it hadn't occurred to me that it was necessary to leave that kind of mark. But of course it is.

I like Mythster's comment, but I took it to mean when we are issued harps, we also get a computer to blog heavenly topics! Maybe we get stuck with dial up (as I am) if we go the other way...good idea to take seriously, though, and shows the power of blogging!

I have always wanted to send Nancy a note or two. This is a perfect example. I can't. She leaves me notes, and she writes wonderful pieces on your blog. It's a quandary for writers like Nancy who are important in our lives.

When I am no longer here - do not weep for me...see my face book page and know that my goodbye is there to see.
B'shalom and Happy 5772..

Thank you, Mage for your nice comment about me.

Yes, it is a quandry for me because I don't have a blog and neither do any of my children.

Several people that I have read and become friends with have disappeared ( fortunately they have reappeared) and it made me question what would happen if I should get ill and my computer friends had no way of finding out what had become of me.

The registry seemed to be the answer but there are so many pitfalls to keeping long lists of Email addresses;so many people ready to jump on those lists and use them for their own purposes.

I wonder if you or G might have a suggestion?

What I have done so far is send my daughter's Email address to several people and they have sent a family Email address to me in exchange.Through that avenue I hope they will find out about me and I can find out about them.

At least it started the ball rolling on this discussion about us knowing what has become of a computer friend who suddenly disappears.

On another note,Mage I followed your train trip and am delighted it turned out well for you. Loved the pictures.

I know this post in a couple of years old. Has there been an update? And other posts on similar subjects.

One of my dearest friends died from a fall. She lived alone and was not found for over a week. She lived in NJ, I am in MO. I was frantic. Anyway.. She and I discussed this subject a week before her accident, we are both very active online.

Thanks Ronni for listening.

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