Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Nurse Kelley Sez: If you die, how will we know?

When I published the first version of this diary in 2010 it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. It has been, by far, the one post of mine most often requested for republication. Something happened last night that made me realize it’s time to post it again: a woman I love, a woman I’ve never met, went silent last Sunday. I first met Linda Kay Thurman on another blog, writing as In her own Voice, and we eventually became facebook friends. Over time her blogging was replaced by grandchildren, but Linda kept her online friends close and engaged and delighted with her stories and photos and daily thoughts.

Sunday, Linda’s updates stopped abruptly. She had somewhere to go, probably just an errand or dinner out, and two blocks from her home a drunk driver ran a stop sign at high speed and ended her beautiful life instantly. If her daughters hadn’t had her facebook sign-in information – and used it last night – many of Linda’s hundreds of friends might never know why she seemed to vanish in thin air.

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Dying is a matter of “when”, not “if”. Pretty much everyone knows what they should do to make their final arrangements, and doing so is not just for the old and infirm. Even you college students could get hit by a bus and die tomorrow. If you’ve got more than a few possessions or think you might even consider having children someday or don’t want your brothers to fight over your DVD collection, you need a will. If you’ve got a complicated family of in-laws, outlaws, stepkids and exes, you REALLY need a will. If you are the parent or guardian of a disabled person you need to make legal arrangements and trusts NOW. If you are a member of the GLBT community and don’t yet have the same rights as everyone else, you MUST have a will.

If you have strong feelings about organ donation (you do, don’t you?) don’t just sign a donor card. Your family can override your wishes when you die. Your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, your Living Will, and your Power of Attorney should be executed, discussed with your next of kin and safely stored where they can retrieve them when needed. Don’t forget to choose a guardian for your kids and make arrangements for your pets.

Today’s topic is more about notifications than arrangements. It was simple enough when my parents died; we notified family members and close friends, then got in touch with the company Daddy worked for his entire life. Both my parents graduated from Rice University and were active in the alumni association, so we called them and asked them to get the word out. They’d volunteered for a variety of organizations and causes, and they’d been members of the same church for eons. We knew which neighbors they were friends with and we called them. Their address books provided the names of friends we weren’t aware of, and obituaries in the local paper were seen by the one or two friends we’d missed.

My, how times have changed! Address books have been replaced with password protected computers and handheld devices. If your survivors are lucky enough to know (or guess) your passwords, what then? Will they know which social networking site(s) you frequent … and how to get into them? Do they know if you’re in private online groups, and how to contact someone in the groups?

What about the financial sites you use? I’ve got a Power of Attorney and my son knows where it is, but he could begin managing my affairs immediately if he knew how to access my accounts online. Should I give him that information now? Just in case? If not, what do I do with the myriad web addresses and sign-in names and passwords currently clogging my brain?

More to the point today, if you die and you still have Moose friends, how will we know?


  1. anotherdemocrat

    I guess if someone opened the Mac & a new tab, they’d see the sites I visit all the time & my passwords load automatically on this computer. But someone would need to actually open this computer & the new tab….

  2. triciawyse

    HUGS, sweetie. I am sorry. I know that when I die, if I still have an online presence & if I preceed Joey, he knows to use my computer and get into my fb and let everyone know, as well as DK and here(if not, I will remind him). He will also notify the closest of the close to be sure that they spread the word.  

  3. Im a frayed knot

    I knew so many single people, college students, older divorcees, etc. who lived alone, and I thought to myself, if something happened to any of them, how long would it take for anyone to find them?  Then I realized that as isolated as families are becoming, what if something happened to the whole family?  Who would know?  I especially wondered this when we were living in California and our nuclear family was removed from the extended family.  We talked about once every couple weeks.  If they missed a call, they would have just concluded we were out – so it could be another couple weeks before they tried to call.  Nobody would have known if something was wrong.  I guess it is just how our society is going these days.

  4. bfitzinAR

    {{{HUGS}}} Kelley for the loss of your friend.  The “no come back” always gets to me – when you hit our age (OK, you have a couple of years on me, but not many) there have been so many who aren’t coming back.  My faith says I’ll follow them on someday – that it’s something like when the early European settlers left for America.  Without any of the communication devices (I’m including telephones and telegraphs were) or even regular mail service, the only contact came when (OK, with this there’s an ‘if’) you followed them over however many boats later.  That comforting concept doesn’t always comfort.

    As to how you’ll know – basically the element of luck involved is that my house doesn’t burn down as the reason I’m gone.  There’s a list of phone numbers beside my good ol’ fashioned land line and one of those is teh PQs.  My best friend and the son who lives in this town both know to contact the folks on that list.  Otherwise, not sure – if it happens while I’m still a JP, there’ll be an “official” obit if anybody cares to look.  Once I’m no longer serving it’s kind of up to my kid as to whether or not he puts one in.

  5. Mets102

    via my computer, so that would be simple enough.

    On a side note, last night, when I was in the ER, I asked for a health proxy and HIPAA release 3 separate times to make sure that G-d forbid anything my mom (and if not her for some reason, my uncle) would be authorized to speak to the doctor and make any necessary decisions.  Despite the fact that they said someone would come a patient representative never came and I was never able to fill out the necessary paperwork.  Thankfully it turned out to be something relatively minor for me and not the appendicitis it looked like it was immediately after the blood work had come back.

  6. emeraldmaiden

    my condolences on the loss of your friend. What a tragedy.

    Second, I’ve always wondered who would notice I was gone. People lead busy lives, and we can’t always connect. I guess triciawyse would notice I wasn’t posting game requests anymore on FB. 😉

    I’ll have to make sure Rich knows to notify my online friends, should something happen to me. Just the thought of leaving him to deal with that makes me teary.

  7. Otteray Scribe

    and I am also aware some with failing health may stop blogging or having contact with the outside world.

    Since the death of my wife, everything here has changed. One should revise the will from time to time, as events progress. People move in and out of our lives, and bequest issues may change.

    I read an obituary a while back that had been written by the deceased. I think that is way cool. Like a resume, just update it from time to time. I am going to make sure at least a couple of my kids are registered at all the blogs where i am registered, and they will also have my passwords. My obituary may even be published by proxy under my own username.

    It is important. I remember the sinking feeling when we got the word about Dave Smith (Translator), Granny Doc and others. That Stumpy was dying was well known, so that was not a shock, although I was disappointed I did not get there with Sara’s quilt in time. At least I was able to make sure he got the memorial service and burial he deserved.

    Now off to update and revise my list. I need to make some notes while I am thinking about it.

  8. but my name is odd enough that Googling me should find things pretty easily, whether it’s my latest tweet, a post on one of my two blogs, stuff on GOS or here, or, I hope a long time from now, an obituary.

    Just to check, I just Googled myself and the first dozen things are all about the Peter Flom that is me.  

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