In our various non virtual communities we have rituals and processes to help the bereaved in their grief. Preparing a will is recommended and is the usual practice in Australian and many other societies.
But how might this relate to our online lives?
I recently read a post called What Happens To My Gmail Account When I Die? The writers (from the cloud storage service Backupify) are not talking about blogs. They are looking at the implications of personal information held in Gmail accounts. The question they are asking is: Can our loved ones inherit our Gmail accounts when we die?
They point out that this is a potentially serious issue. For example, your partner may not be able to access your Health Savings Account without access to the Gmail account. If you give your partner the password, then they can access your account. But this is against Gmail's privacy regulations, and if Gmail finds out you are impersonating the account owner, they will cancel the account. (If you want more details, it's worth checking out the post).
In summary, the Backupify people suggest we need to name a digital beneficiary. In other words, we need to make a will and treat our virtual assets in exactly the same way as our non-virtual ones.
Back to blogs. Our blogs are part of our virtual assets. For many bloggers they may have significant monetary value. For many others (like me) the value is sentimental - a bit like a family heirloom.
I value being part of garden and nature blog communities, like Blotanical and Nature Blog Network. When we first started blogging, I remember some of us would send anxious messages or comments, because we weren't sure what the norms were, what was expected. It was all so new. Now it feels pretty comfortable on the whole. Some cyberfriends visit regularly and often, others irregularly and occasionally. It works, and it's more or less a two-way reciprocal process.
Our gardens are incredibly important to us, but we share even more than our gardens. With varying degrees of disclosure, we also share many aspects of our lives. If possible, I would like to know if posting on a cyberfriend's blog has stopped, never to be resumed, because they have died. I hope that knowledge will enable us to develop cyber-rituals to express and share feelings and memories.
Unless I choose to stop blogging before I die, I would like my husband or one of my children to write the final post on my blog for me.