Tuesday, July 05, 2005

this is a copy of this week's blog column at donationcoder

curious about life after death? this is what happens when you die:From: __________ <____@_____> Add To Address Book
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: Wednesday July 6th: SPECIAL EVENT!
To: <______>

It is with great sorrow and sadness that we report to you that ______, the head of the ______, passed away on the morning of July 5, 2005. The family has asked that any communication be directed to the _______ at ______. Thank you.
"out of office"? damn. that's a hell of a way to find out that someone you know just died...

fuck cancer.

so this week's blog entry is dedicated to those who have "moved on" in the more perminent sense...in this life, anyway. the email that got "autoreplied" to me started me thinking about what IS the best way to tell people via email or any other electronic means that the person they just emailed...just died. certainly "out of office" just doesn't seem to be the right way to do things. i mean, wow, what if i had called? what would the equivalent be? a recording of some sort telling me "the person you are trying to reach has been disconnected" before patching me over to voicemail?

ok, i'm sorry if this sounds callous in any way. i don't mean it to be. the thing is, my friend is the latest in a whole bunch of friends to, uh, get cancer and die. so all i know at this point is sarcastic humor that serves as my defense mechanism for dealing with shit like this. i mean there are articles all over the internet on how to notify family and friends about death (example one, example two). the thing is? they say do not call, tell them in person. but now what do we do in this age of "autoreply"?

i googled death notification via email. i came up with this page written by someone who recieved an email about the death of an internet friend who they'd never met in person. is the pain any less great? looking further, i found this article on the baltimore city paper's website called ghosts in the machines: what happens to your online self when you die? in that article there's a link to died online which "will be back shortly" apparently. did they, too, die online? then another called my last email - "preparing today for tomorrow" - also not currently active. who knows if these companies will be back online. i suspect that during there first run attempts, some things went very, very wrong. i can't imagine that creating an automatic death notification system is any less, uh, troubling than setting up an "out of office autoreply."

i certainly don't have any answers as to how to handle death in this so-called "information age." all i know? the whole death thing just sucks.

american cancer society

bye my friend.

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