what happens to our blogs when we die?

Has anyone else thought about this confronting topic?

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.


  1. As with fb it is ill-defined


    The trouble is, as with emails, they are not actually your data in the small print. Future historians will have such fun with no letters to work from.

  2. It is something to think about. I know I had a friend who died just at the end of last year and her Facebook account is still open.

    There were many sympathy messages left on her page at the time, and that did give some a chance to say goodbye I guess. While I suppose some would say it's nice to drop by to read posts and see photos on her Facebook page, to me it does feel a little inappropriate somehow. Maybe that's just me!

  3. It crosses my mind from time to time - about blogs. But I hadn't thought about mail.

    It would be good, if I were to die, to have someone leave a note on my blog to say what's happened rather than have everyone leaving worried messages hoping I am ok when I am not. (Literally 'not'!)

  4. This idea has crossed my mind a time or two in the past year. I thought about starting a post that sums up my life/thoughts and scheduling it to post a year or so into the future - with the hope that I will be changing the post date as time goes on. The only trouble with this being I try to respond to as many commments as I can.... Catmint, you've given me something to think about. For now, I guess I'll put a letter in the safe deposit box with all my passwords and let my family sort it out. Or check into reincarnation and see if I can send all this to myself in the future... Happy Sunday.

  5. Gini Dietrich has a recent post up about this. (I didn't read it, but yes I have thought about it)

  6. I have thought about this, as I have abandoned a travel blog I wrote for years and, due to its early entre and travel theme it had a lot of readers. I was not particularly personal as I am in my garden blog, but even then, when I quit posting I got an enormous serge of "I used to sit at my miserable job and look at your photos, videos and read of your adventures, this is a loss in my life" It was wild. They asked at that at least leave the blog up (it was the days of paid webspace before the proliferation of blogger and ilk). I did not, but eventually transfered it to someplace they could see it.

    Now I know more, and with gardening blogs, we are all a bit 'closer', its a smaller community and it feels more like friends. I ALWAYS notice when one of my gardening online buddies goes missing. And in the meantime, I try my best to never write anything I wouldn't want my mother to know. That pretty much keeps it safe for the rest of the world!

    PS. I hope you are okay!

  7. WOW!!! I've thought about this often. And I'd like my spouse to write my final blog to my readers to end the blog properly. Or like in the Hobbit, they could continue the story.....but who knows? I'm like you....I suppose I could make money off of it but it's more sentimental and my way of sharing my ideas and art. I would leave my password in a notebook....but I would hope that it would continue. I'd like to leave money to maintain the pictures on the site for years and years afterwards....it's definitely a more formal diary of our lives. A digital will.....that sounds like a good dinner topic tonight. Thanks for the post. And hope you are okay and that this was just a random thought:) Chris

  8. A somewhat morbid topic don't you think.Buck up old chap as the British would say.
    The Macquarie library in Sydney is adding blogs to its collection in the same way books are a valuable resource of information.

  9. thanks Cathy.

    thanks Hermes, for link telling how to notify Blogger of a user death - if we want to. It's interesting to think we're providing data for future historians.

    Dear Bernie, that sort of thing doesn't appeal to me either.

    Hi Lucy, I think that's all i want: someone to post a message saying goodbye, this is the end of the blog.

    Hi Joy, now there's some interesting creative ideas. If you send your password to reincarnation you can continue your blog yourself.

    Dear Wendy, I'm sorry I often seem to write about stuff that is alarming for you, like death and insects.

    Thanks Diana.The Gini Dietrich post is very relevant to this topic - and very clear. It's at http://spinsucks.com/social-media/protecting-your-online-you-after-you-die/#more-11464 in anyone wants to check it out.

    Hi Jess, cyber-relationships can't replace real-life relationships but I feel they enrich my life. I laughed at what you wrote about your mother. I don't have to worry about that with my mother. She will be 100 this year and when it comes to a computer she doesn't know which side is up.

    cheers, cm

  10. Thank you for opening my eyes to this...I want my daughter Denali to do my final post.

  11. Dear Chris, I am OK, thanks for asking. Like you, I have thinking about this for a while. But as for the timing of the post, who knows whether the events of the past few months have influenced it?

    Dear Ian, I didn't know that about libraries. Now that could solve the problem. If libraries were interested, we could just leave the password details to them, and they could organize the rest? If we wanted, we could even give them the wording for the final post.

    cheers, cm

  12. Sigh. One of the bloggers I was following actually died last year, and her daughter posted about her death on the blog. Quite sad.

  13. Strange, I was talking to my husband about this just a couple of weeks ago. I decided that I wanted either him or my children to do a last post for me and then to close my bog. Obviously we will have to think about it some more!

  14. There is also a British blog archive. A select few. I think Fan My Flame is one. And all the blog to book options - if you want a journal for family and friends?

    Francis of Faire Garden was also musing on the future of her blog, but that was way back. Hope you will be able to pick up normal life and get gardening again!

  15. Fascinating and thought provoking.... I hadn't given it a thought. I've been more concerned about what will happen to my garden when I die! But you made us all aware of something we definitely should consider.

  16. Catmint, that's a good thought... makes me think of mine... you see, nobody else but me gardens in my household...

  17. Important issues, Catmint, that haven't been addressed. For myself, I don't want to leave any 'footprints' behind, but there's no way of knowing I'll have time to get the scrubbing-brush out. There needs to be some guaranteed way that accounts can be deleted entirely through the intercession of a third party.

  18. Dear Cheryl, we're on the same page (or screen)

    Dear Johanna, yes sad, but for me it is good to know the reason the blog is finished.

    Hi Pauline, you're ahead of me. I guess I'm using this post to do my thinking.

    thanks diana, as ever, you are such a source of info trails and ideas ...

    Hi C and S, this comment made me laugh and ponder. I think I've accepted total loss of control over the garden in the future - so why should the cybersphere be any different?

    Hi Steph, nonbody but me gardens either - and basically that's how I like it. (You can admire, you can help ... )

    Dear Faisal, I guess there are 2 issues: one last post informing us readers that you've died. Then the issue of deleting the blog.

    anyway, let's make the most of our parallel virtual and non virtual existences while we've got them ...
    cheers, catmint

  19. Ohmygoodness. Things I'd never even THOUGHT about, Catmint! Thanks for this post! And thanks for your recent visit. :-)


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