A family friend unexpectedly passed away a couple weekends ago. He was much too young for death so it was extra sad for everyone who knew him.
As most news now-a-days, word of his death spread virally to all relevant parties and the grievances started flowing in. Instead of traditional grievance letters to the family, I watched in awe as tons of people turned to his Facebook profile as a way to say their parting words. I’ve read about this phenomenon a few times across the web, but this was my first time experiencing it first hand, so wanted to share some of my feelings…
- It’s both sad and comforting at the same time. The sadness set in as I read through all the personal stories people shared about him. The comfort set in because I realized how many people knew and appreciated him and I wasn’t alone in my feelings.
- His final status update is immortalized forever and without over-analyzing it too much, it was a totally normal update for him, but it’s there for us to interact with…forever. His final gift to the world. His parting words, whether he wanted them to be or not. Which gives him this sense of immortality because somehow, now I get to interact with him and “talk” to him. I know I use a few auto-email tools and have some things scheduled out for future release. If I passed away today, several people would get emails from me as if I were still alive. The social web gives us an odd immortality.
- Lastly, our family friend was too young to die, and nothing about his latest interactions hinted at warning signs of a coming death. So as I look at his Facebook pictures, reflect on my experiences with him, and read through his latest status updates, I realize how close death really is at any moment. If it can happen to him unexpectedly, why not me?
Watching the grievances of death, especially when it’s unexpected, unfold on a Facebook Profile, is a cold shot of reality about how fragile life really is.