THE 21ST CENTURY OBITUARY ON FACEBOOK
Yesterday I learned that a friend had died when I clicked on his Facebook page. It had been a while since I’d checked in on this particular friend – and it was shocking, to say the least, to see the notice of his death dated September 19, at the top of the page. I read it a few times, just to make sure I understood what it said. I couldn’t believe he had died, just could not believe it.
I think part of my shock was finding out this way, on his Facebook page, his happy face smiling at me from his profile picture as I read the news. Is this any different than reading an obituary in the newspaper? I guess it really isn’t – except in the newspaper, when you turn to the obituaries, you kind of know what to expect. When you click around Facebook, checking in on your various friends, picking a random person from your list for no other reason than curiosity, it’s pretty shocking to find out they’ve died, believe me. You go from looking at pictures of someone’s pets on one page to a notice for a funeral on another.
I was very, very sad to learn this man had died, at the too young age of 57. He had once been important in my life, and I had been happy to see him on Facebook when he “friended” me about a year ago. There wasn’t more to it than that – we didn’t chat, or exchange posts or anything. It was just nice to see him, older of course, but still the same face I remembered.
And then he died. Wow.
I called his wife, just to tell her how sorry I was. We’d never met, and she probably had no idea who I was – but she listened as I expressed my condolences and told me he had died quickly, of pancreatic cancer, 2 months after he had been diagnosed.
I imagine this isn’t the last time I’ll learn of the death of a friend this way – Facebook has become such a big part of so many of our lives, and we share so much about ourselves and the lives we are living, it seems logical to find out friends have died on Facebook too.
Rest in Peace, my friend.