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Preparing for End of Life in a Digital World
January 15, 2022

From considering cremation or burial, to preparing a will, and generally “getting one’s affairs in order”, the list of items one feels may be necessary for preparing for the inevitability of mortality can seem daunting and arduous. Now the digital age brings us one more question to ponder: what is to become of our social media profiles when we pass away?

From Facebook and Instagram, to Gmail records, and a long list of online services that contain personal and private information, we leave a legacy of digital information across the myriad of accounts we accumulate in this modern age of computing. And this is before we even get to our important financial accounts: bank accounts, stock trading accounts, and now crypto wallets; all secured by password protected access that our descendants will need to access in resolving our post-mortem finances.

Of course, much of the financial items will be resolved in our Will or can be resolved through legal channels, but we can make the task much easier by maintaining and updating a list of usernames and passwords for our most important accounts. But what about our social media presence? Have you considered what you want to have happen to your Facebook page when you are gone? Do you want your friends and family to be able to commemorate your life and connect with each other to wish you a posthumous ‘happy birthday’ each year while they peruse your digital legacy?

Cremation of sorts for your digital profile is also an option, as Facebook offers the ability for you to have your account permanently deleted when you pass away. Or you can choose to have your account set as a “Memorialized Account”: which results in having the word “Remembering” affixed to your profile, offering friends and loved ones the chance to view the content you shared, and you determine what can and cannot be shared from your profile. No one will be able to log into your account to make any changes, unless you designate a ‘legacy contact’, and otherwise the process is fairly simple.

As we prepare for the inevitable, it is quite remarkable to reflect on the technological advancements that have been made in our lifetimes: some people alive today will recall an era of telegraphs and the emergence of technologies like television, for others, life without the Internet and mobile phones is an unknown experience. We’ve gone from having to deliver news of an individual’s passing by hand-written letters to being able to handle an entire memorial service online: you can even use Google to “find online cremation services near me” and pre-arrange your desired services at a local crematorium online from the comfort of your own home.

You could say that it’s an amazing time to be alive. It’s also an amazing time to pass away.