When I was first approached about writing this blog post, I almost turned it down. I was asked to write about death and dying, and, honestly, I just didn’t think I had much to say about it. Sure, I’ve experienced my fair share like everyone else, but it’s not a subject I’ve ever felt compelled to write about or discuss publicly (or at least on the internet).
Of course, I need to have some very important conversations with my loved ones about healthcare, retirement savings, organ donation, and life insurance if something were to happen to me, but, truthfully, it hasn’t been on my immediate agenda. And, since I have no intention of dying any time soon, it has always seemed like something I can push back to a later date.
When I was talking to the Haven Life team about the post and quietly plotting my getaway, Brittney asked me something that totally caught me off-guard and really made me think. She said: “What would happen to Carrots ‘N’ Cake if you died? Would you want someone to shut it down or do you want it to live on, or would you have someone post an exit blog entry?”
Whoa. I had never thought about it before, so, not surprisingly, my initial response was a bit dumbfounded.
I also felt somewhat anxious because I didn’t have any sort of plan. I mean, who would take on that responsibility? I immediately thought of my husband, but we hadn’t talked about it. And, on the technical side, he didn’t know any of my login information. My tech friend, Blain, could likely post a message on CNC or shut it down all together, but, again, we hadn’t talked and he didn’t know what I ultimately wanted for Carrots ‘N’ Cake.
What I realized in this discussion is: I don’t have a crystal ball. I have no way of knowing when my time will come. But, as I’m sure most of you can relate, I want to make sure I leave my family as taken care of and stress-free as possible. This includes, making sure they know what choices to make with this online community I’ve built with CNC.
Same thing goes for my Facebook page. If I were to pass away, do I want someone to delete my account or leave it up as an active memorial? It’s a lot to think about, right? Social media might seem trivial in the grand scheme of death and dying, but since it’s not something we talk about on a regular basis, most of us won’t know what to do for our loved ones and their accounts in their untimely passing. Also, the reality is, this is a new situation we’re all dealing with for the first time.
Many of us have shared a big portion of our lives on social media, and now we need to decide: Do we want that to live on publicly or semi-publicly (depending on our privacy settings)? Do we want our families to have another constant reminder of our absence through a never-updated-again social media page? Or will they find this comforting, like a piece of us is still with them in this world?
After this discussion, I quickly realized how important it is for me to talk with my loved ones about my wishes if I were to pass away unexpectedly. I also realized that it’s something I’m pretty comfortable discussing, especially if it makes other people think about these necessary decisions too.
These are some decisions I’ve made for Carrots ‘N’ Cake and my social channels:
I’d like Carrots ‘N’ Cake to live on long after my passing. It’s a project that I have put my heart and soul into over the years. It’s also a journal of nearly eight years of my life and a number of major milestones occurred during this time that I would hate to see just go away. Events like our wedding day, Quinn’s birth and his early years… I know my husband and family would enjoy having these photos and memories live on.
I would also like my husband to write some sort of final post for CNC. I’d want it to be short and sweet because I know he’d have other things to worry about, but, knowing him, it would be a well-constructed, heartfelt message that he spent hours and hours writing. Whatever he felt was necessary is okay. Blain would help him post it.
For my other social media accounts, I struggled with making a decision, so I consulted my family and friends for their thoughts. Many of them agreed it would be nice– even comforting– to have access to my online persona after I was gone, so I decided that I would like my social media accounts to stay open. I know how important they can be for closure after a loved one’s death. Plus, because so much of my life was documented in photos online, I want family and friends to have access to those memories for as long as possible.
As you can imagine, while composing this post, I spent a lot of time thinking about death and dying. My thoughts and emotions were all over the place, but, in the end, I realized the subject isn’t one to ignore, and by not making decisions, I’m potentially making my passing more difficult for loved ones, which is the last thing I’d want to do.
Having this conversation, for me at least, was very liberating. If you think you need to have a similar conversation with your family or friends, it’s helpful to consider: Who would “own” your accounts after you passed away? Which ones, if any, would you keep open? Maybe you want your partner/sibling to download and save your online photos somewhere?
Whatever your decision may be about your social channels, I think a powerful and positive first step is just starting this discussion with your family and friends.
“After You Die” is a series we’re hosting on the Haven Life blog to help raise awareness around, well, what actually happens when you die and what you should consider planning for while you’re still living. Our team and guest bloggers will tackle topics like: handling your social channels, what happens with your life insurance policy, how to handle your money and more. Remember: talking about death won’t make it happen sooner.
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Tina Haupert is the blogger behind Carrots ‘N’ Cake, a lifestyle blog that followers her as she strives to live a healthy and fit life in southern Massachusetts with her husband, toddler, and pug.