The public sharing of one’s last thoughts is a way to acknowledge that the end is near, but it also destigmatizes death for others, said medical experts who work with terminally ill patients.
In the Internet age, many people reflect on their lives through video, personal blogs and larger websites such as CaringBridge.org, where people who have major health events connect and share online.
“What we’re seeing over the last decade is a movement from a culture that was very closed about death,” said Dr. Chris Feudtner, research director of Palliative Care Services at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
A cultural shift has occurred, he said, referring to columnists and Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who discussed their impending deaths with frankness. Pausch’s last lecture, urging students to fearlessly pursue their dreams, went viral on YouTube in 2007, getting more than 11 million views.
Their line of thinking may be, “I’m still alive. I don’t want to be closed. I want connection. I want to be able to share what I’m learning on this journey,” Feudtner said.
“We all tend to be open via video, blog or Facebook about what we do every day. It’s hardly surprising that openness extends to people’s last days or weeks,” said Dr. David Cassarett, author of the book “Last Acts,” about end-of-life decisions.
Even Facebook allows you to designate a friend or family member as a “legacy contact.” If you want to have your account memorialized after you die, this person basically serves as the executor of your Facebook account by managing your profile and can update your cover photo and profile photo, post information and accept new friend requests.
Managing your online identity for posterity is definitely a growing market opportunity. Facebook recently began offering memorialized profiles for members of its social network that have passed away.
How do you want to live your life on line after Death?