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Deleting the Dead

I joined Facebook in 2008, about six years ago, and I have a lot of “friends”. 1,154 to be exact. There were nine more just an hour ago, but I’ve “unfriended” them. Deleted them really. Not because we are no longer friend. It’s because they are no longer with us. And that brings about a whole new dilemma. What do you do to a Facebook account when someone dies? It appear for the nine people that I used to know, nothing happens because they still have a Facebook presence. And it’s kind of weird to me.

There have been times over the years when one of these dearly departed friends show up on my feed. Usually it’s on their birthday when I get the message to wish them a happy birthday. The nice part is that I get to think about them again. The not so nice part is when it makes me sad because I miss them.

Karen was a friend who I met a few years ago when I was recruited to participate in the Vagina Monologues. She was President of NOW in Phoenix and a really delightful woman. She had this great hat that she wore to play her part. I didn’t know right away, but learned later that she had cancer when we were in rehearsal. It finally got the best of her a couple years later. Now her profile picture is kind of hazed over.

Jean was a woman I met through Wild Boomer Women. When we did a benefit for a breast cancer foundation, she started volunteering for them. I learned about a year after her death that she had passed, from a post on her Facebook page that her daughter made about how much she missed her.

Sunny was an old friend a colleague of 20 years ago – we had many years of fun together when I lived in Detroit. We had lost touch when I moved to Phoenix 16 years ago. We recently reconnected via LinkedIn and then friended each other on Facebook and caught up on each other’s lives. Then a few months later I found out via her daughter’s post on her Facebook page that she had a very serious heart attack and had been in the hospital for five weeks in intensive care but was finally on the mend. Then she took a turn for the worse and left us. Very sad.

Arda was the last living sibling of my Dad. She wasn’t really active on Facebook and never even posted a picture, but many of her 13 nieces and nephews talked her into setting up a page. She was a very progressive, independent woman. She was one of the first Detroit police women and went to law school at night. When she graduated she worked as a Friend of the Court in the juvenile division for many years. She traveled the world with her alumni association. She never married or even dated. Shortly after I started my business when I was 26, she went into private practice (she was in her late 50’s). We went to business seminars together. She passed away in 2012 just a few months after my mother.

Nancy was a friend from high school . I was actually better friends with her cousin and her sister. I don’t even remember becoming friends on Facebook, but last year I found out she passed away. No one would say how. She was a year younger than me. Her profile photo was outlined in purple after she passed.

Shirley – how I miss her. She was one of my Mom’s best friends and one of two of her friends actually active on Facebook (in their 80’s). Shirley was a beautiful, talented woman full of life. She was the kind of Mom I always wanted. She too died of cancer, and I’m thankful that I did get to talk with her before she died.

Kenny was my brother’s age and I was friends with his sister, but we all went to summer camp together. We reconnected and became friends again on Facebook. He was a greeting card artist with his own line of hand-made cards. They were so beautiful that I purchased his “queen” card and framed it. It sits in my living room. He was very funny and I always enjoyed his posts. While he didn’t post his diagnosis officially on Facebook, he did post a very funny video about him going to the hospital to get chemo treatments. That’s how he announced his illness and just like when he was in good health, everything was done with a great sense of humor. Six weeks later he was gone.

Bruce was my eye doctor for a while. He was one of the most handsome men I knew, but very modest and shy. He was divorced with a couple of young kids but didn’t really date because he was too shy to go out and meet women to date. I had moved up north for a couple of years so I didn’t see him. One day I saw some photos of him without hair. It was very shocking because I just knew he was sick. I thought he was getting better, but then he was gone, leaving two young children. Another one gone too soon.

Marty was the most recent death. We were friends in Junior high school but didn’t keep in touch after I moved to the next city for high school. I was also friend with his wife to be Laura. There’s was a great love story that produced a few children, but she was sick for many years and passed away several years ago. Marty and I had also recently reconnected on Facebook and had just been bantering back and forth about something. Two days later he died instantly from a heart attack. Now there were three children with no parents. Very sad, and just several months before our 40th high school reunion.

I’m glad I got to think about these people before I deleted them. I won’t forget them and the impact they had on my life, no matter how long ago or how short of a time. Rest well my friends.