Image copyright Artbejo, Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain Image copyright Artbejo, Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

One day last week, a press release crossed my desk and caught my eye. It was an announcement of new services from MemorializeMe, a organization aimed at sorting through the digital legacy we leave when we die:

MemorializeMe combines the ability to make memorials, design your last wishes and deliver messages on important celebrations to those you love after you have passed. You can store important family documents for your heirs to have access including social media passwords. In addition there is a resource library of all kinds of valuable information about managing your digital legacy, estate planning, funeral planning, grieving, memorializing and preparing for death.

The release was timely, coming immediately before All Soul's Day. I tucked it away for future consideration, but it came to my mind a few hours later when a Facebook friend of mine announced that he had just "memorialized" his late wife's social media profile. He shared that the burden of several hundred "Happy Birthday" wishes from well-meaning people who had not heard of her death would be more than he could bear.

During the month of November, we pray for all of the souls who have gone before us. Perhaps then, this is a fitting time to discuss how our now digitally-soaked lives should be remembered when we leave this earth. A few thoughts come to my mind on ways in which each of us can perhaps better prepare ourselves and also spare our loved ones from needless pain and grief when we die:

  1. Leave a digital will: As the "Memorialize Me" tool recommends, planning ahead can be a gift for our loved ones. Practical items to consider including are basic accounts and passwords (especially for important financial accounts), email account information, a listing of digital properties you may own or subscribe to, and social media profiles.
  2. Instruct your family on your wishes: Just as you might leave instructions on your funeral mass planning if you had the opportunity, perhaps you could leave behind a few lines that might be shared in the event of your passing.
  3. Consider your legacy: I think for me, this is the most important thing to remember. At times, I have visited a friend's Facebook page after they died suddenly and been struck by their "last post". It's often caused me to consider for myself, "What if this were the very last post/tweet/instagram I ever sent? Does this convey the type of message I would want friends to remember me by?" This line of reasoning has, on more than one occasion, caused me to hit "delete" and to walk away from my computer. In Matthew 25:13, Jesus tells his followers, "Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Can we employ this wisdom to perhaps more carefully consider what we leave behind digitally when we share our thoughts online?

During this month of November, I plan to do a little digital preparing and tidying to not only be better organized but also with an eye toward better serving my loved ones. But perhaps even more importantly, let's all remember to embrace the fulness of this month to pray for those who have gone before us.

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This is the perfect month to pull out and share photos of beloved grandparents and to share their stories with our children. It's the perfect month to perhaps share Uncle Ansel's favorite joke or Aunt Beulah's pumpkin pie recipe. If we are unable to personally visit a loved one's gravesite this month, it's the perfect time to request a Mass in their honor and to "virtually" visit their resting place for a moment of quiet reflection. And most of all it's the perfect month to pray daily for the souls of the faithful departed, even those who lived long before Facebook accounts needed "memorializing"!

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Copyright 2016 Lisa M. Hendey

Image copyright Artbejo, Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain