When a blogger passes on…

Posted on July 14, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Health, HowTo, Musings | Tags: |

I was touched by the story of the 108 year old blogger, who passed away Saturday in Australia. The story says she took up blogging last year and was thrilled to have made friends all over the world. This is true for me, too, as I continue to blog. I don’t know if I’ll still be blogging when I’m 108, but if I’m around, then, I hope so! It also brings up an issue that has been discussed on blogs before. How does one let ones blog companions know if one has become disabled or has died? Sometimes people just drop out of the blogosphere, never to be heard from again.

Olive Riley, the 108-year-old blogger, had a family member who was able to post the news of her passing on her blog. I imagine condolences will pour in from all over. But what if a blogger is like me? I’m the only one who knows my user name and password, and only a couple of people in my real life know both my user name and my “real” name. I’d hate to just “disappear” one day, just as I’d be distressed if you did, as well. When a blogger I’ve cared about has stopped posting for a while, so far, I’ve had an email address for them and have been able to find out that, yes, they are still alive, but they have taken a blogging break for __________ reason. That is fine. But, what if I never got an email back? The situation will surely arise one day, and unlike with real life friends and acquaintances, I may not know their real name, so could not search out a possible obituary.

I know this is a bit of a morbid topic, but in reading the news story about Ms. Riley, I got to thinking about this again. Regarding all of us pseudonymous bloggers: Should we leave a note amongst our personal papers with our log in information and a final message to our blog readers? Should we write a letter to whoever may be administering our estate about how important it is to us to let people know? What if the person doesn’t think it’s important…”Oh, it’s just their Facebook ‘friends’, you can’t take them seriously, anyway.” I can imagine that, if it’s a relative who comes upon the letter and is actually grieving for me or for you, it might be the last priority they have, and it might slip through the cracks. Many, many people don’t realize that online friends are REAL, and really do care. There would be mere acquaintances who would read about you in the newspaper who may mean less to you than some of your blogging friends.

In a post some time ago, Moonbeam McQueen created a blogger’s Emergency I.D. Card.Β  I thought it was a timely idea, and I salute her. Still, I haven’t done one for myself yet. I “intend” to, but, it seems kind of…scary?

What do you think? In any event, I am happy to help celebrate the life of Olive Riley, and thrilled that blogging brought joy to her last years.


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33 Responses to “When a blogger passes on…”

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108! I’ll have to read her blog, I bet it is interesting.

It’s hard not to wonder if someone is okay when they stop the ritual of daily blogging. But you are right, what if something terrible had happened to them, and we never find out!

It’s not a nice thing to think about but I guess there is an obligation of sorts to let readers know. My whole family knows about my blog so I am sure that someone would find a way to let people know. My info wouldn’t be hard to find, in any case, I have such a terrible memory I write everything down. If I don’t visit a site in over a month, I would never remember the password.

hehehe, I remember Moonbeams post about the ID Card.

For some reason before flying to Bucharest three months ago I had this weird feeling that the flight would crash-land. Since I’m writing this, it obviously never came to pass, but I was so moved to prepare for it I wrote down my login name and password on a piece of paper with instructions to my wife on how to write that final entry. With a link to the news item, if necessary.
Now it’s there just in case anyway. You never know.

I’m giving all my info about my blog to my daughter in case of my demise or if I end up sick or unable to blog so she can get on my blog and make a post. I’m going to do it tonight. I think it’s a good idea. All you friends I have here in blogland are real true friends to me. I remember Moonbeam’s card too but as usual I forgot to copy it or do anything about it. I just wrote myself a note so I won’t forget this time. Thanks for reminding me.

Actually, I’m kinda surprised that we haven’t heard more about the idea of leaving final instructions about our online activities. You have a good point, Muse, that many family members may not give enough importance to the online relationships of their ill of deceased family members. But, it seems to me that if it were something listed in a will or codicile that it would have to be addressed. I’ve had to think about this issue recently with the illness of my husband. He has been in the hospital for more than 3 months and I have had to scare up passwords and logins for several sites and online discussions just to keep track of the subscriptions. Fortunately, he and I have been very open with each other about our favored passwords so when I haven’t known for sure what it was I’ve been able to guess.

This issue reminds me of Randy Pausch who made news last year for giving an especially moving “last lecture.” Maybe as bloggers we should all be thinking about what our “last post” would be. Would you give a moving and motivational message to your kids and other youth as Randy did? Would you keep it short and simple like “So long and thanks for the fish!”? This could make an interesting meme…


It’s good you tell people, BD. You are much more forthcoming than I am. The two people who know about me and my blog don’t want to read it; one because the person doesn’t like to read on computer screens; the other because it “feels” like an intrusion. Still, I’ll leave instructions; both these people know blogging is very important to me even if they don’t “get” it.

My goodness, Ian, that’s interesting about the feeling about crashing, and also how it got you to think about this. I wonder what that feeling was all about…hmmm. Well, I, for one, am glad you did not perish! πŸ™‚ It’s very thoughtful of you, and respectful of your readers to have created those documents and discussed them with your wife.

Good for you, Joan! From what you’ve written elsewhere, it sounds as if your daughter is well aware of how important your blog is to you. I’m feeling better about completing my instructions now, after reading some of the comments here. It’s good to have company in this endeavor! You’re welcome. πŸ™‚

Sarah, I know you’ve had to take care of everything for some time now. You remind me that it’s not just blogging log-ins to consider. While this blog is the most “social” aspect of my online life, with emails running a close second, I am a member of a bunch of other stuff involving passwords. It makes sense to gather up all the sites and passwords in one location and leave a notation somewhere the “administrator” would see it. After all, who is going to snoop in my drawers looking for passwords, anyway? Not someone I’d be friends with, I wouldn’t think. πŸ™‚ I did see that Randy Pausch video; it’s phenomenal. I think leaving a message, in some form would be a wonderful gesture. You’ve got me thinking about the form something like this would take; thanks! My continuing good thoughts go out to you and your husband.

We saw this on the news last night…she lives about 30 minutes away from where I grew up…there are some photos of the area here in this flickr group of the area.

Arial view Koolewong NSW Australia.

You might like to go trekking there one day Muse…my husband has trekked from Sydney to Newcastle and he thought that was the prettiest part of the trek. Perhaps the natural beauty of the area helped her as well as the blogging did in her last year. Isn’t the human spirit wonderful though…imagine she would have had to learn how to use a computer or have someone who cared enough to show her and help her. I have found that all the new things that blogging has taught me [through CJ] has helped my memory because as I learn new things now to do with the computer I find that I am retaining them….. whereas before I had to be shown new things several times.

I too have also covered this topic before ….mostly in comments or in emails to people when I have not heard from them….as have you Muse. I was a little taken aback last year when one of my blogging friends said one day out of the blue that she had enough of blogging…time for real life and the doing of it not the talking about it…so to speak. I emailed her and asked her to stay in touch but never heard again…it was like a death…just totally cut everyone off. It taught me to be careful of who one gives ones affection to online as one has no recourse if that happens. Luckily with some of my blog and flickr mates now I have their home addresses as well so keep in touch both ways.

So the will bit and the id card type thing needs to be worked out I think…CJ knows my passwords etc although I do not know his! We all need to prepare for the future …none of us know if we are going to be hit by a bus…we just have to make sure we have on clean underwear and our affairs in order…..and to some of us our online affairs are more real than the offline ones.

My wife knows all my log ins – not that she is a nosy sod – just that we have Firefox and it keeps all the passwords (Will is a lazy person) because I don’t want to remember umpteen different log ins.

She would put my final blog entries – the very last one would be a simple, yet poignant point “Go get pissed!”


PS – I will never get to 108, good on her for doing so!

There is nothing on my blog my family doesn’t already know about. They respect that I don’t want to chat with them on my site though. We e-mail. I don’t want a bunch of personal stuff up, and somethings I prefer to keep private.

Now if I had a blog that they didn’t know about…boy the stories I could tell. LOL!

Great post, Mused (and thank you for the link).
There were a few things that popped into my head while reading this. One is just what an amazing experience blogging is for some of us. Olive’s great-grandson said something to the effect that blogging was “a mind blowing experience for her.” I’ll bet it was. Imagine being as old as she was, and suddenly finding yourself connected to people from all over the world. She made so many friends, and I’ll bet that her blog kept her younger and sharper than had she just been wiling away the hours playing bingo or watching TV (although she may have been doing those things too). I’m so happy for her and for those who got to know her.

I also think it’s wonderful that she had people around her to post for her when she wasn’t feeling well, and to announce her death.

Here’s a link to one of Olive’s (very sweet)blogs:


You also made me think of this one:


It’s the blog of Andrew Olmstead, a soldier who wrote his own final blog post and gave instructions to a friend in case he didn’t make it home. It’s amazing.

Somehow, I find comfort in the fact that these people provided closure for their families and friends (both in-person and Internet ones), and that, in a way, they’ll always live on.

I’m so sorry for the rambling. This really was an excellent post.

Thank you for the flickr link, Magik. The area is absolutely gorgeous. Those waterfalls are stunning! It does look somewhere I’d love to hike through. It must have been a boon to Olive’s heart to be surrounded by such beauty. There is so much written these days about how we need to keep our minds and bodies active to live well at an advanced age, and blogging certainly requires many different skills and abilities. I’m sorry your former blogging friend didn’t respond to emails. I understand how people try out blogging and then find it’s not for them. It really does take quite a bit of time and effort. It’s amazing how some online relationships can seem close and cozy, but turn out to be one-dimensional without the blog or social network facilitating the interaction. I’ve experienced this in real life though, too, when I’ve been a member of a hobby group, for instance, and felt I had genuine beyond-the-group friends there. When one or more of us left the group, we’d continue to have lunch together sometimes, but with some of the people I began to feel we’d run out of things to talk about after de-constructing the group. Blogging seems different, though because we explore so many things. I hope so, anyway. Your last sentence is most apt. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›

You make a good point, Will, in that anyone could turn on my computer, open up Firefox, and there I’d be in all my WordPress glory. I’d just need to leave instructions that I want to leave a goodbye message. You’re in good shape, though, as I know Alison reads your blog; she chimes in with a pithy and pertinent comment from time to time. Well, if you go before I do, I’ll follow your last instructions, and raise a glass to you, Will! πŸ˜€ Yup, 108 does seem a bit of reach for me as well. Whew!

You could always start a new, private blog, bead [and add me as a reader, please]. I want to know about those stories! πŸ˜‰ I agree with you, there’s nothing in my blog I wouldn’t want my family to read; I’m as much—if not more “Me” here as anywhere else; I just would rather they wouldn’t comment, haha…

You’re welcome, Moonbeam, and thank YOU for your thoughts and the links you included. It truly is amazing to think of Olive blogging away at her age from her assisted living center. I’m sure it engaged her mind in many ways. I followed your link to her posts, and she truly was a treasure. The one about washing in 1908 was mind boggling. Fancy reading that story fresh as she typed it! Also appreciated the Olmstead final post; very moving. All the references to Babylon 5 reminded me how much I liked that series; I’d forgotten how very profound it was. It felt a bit odd to read that final post, but I agree it’s good to leave those left behind with some sense of completion. Not rambling, at all, Moonbeam! I appreciate everything you said. πŸ™‚

i had that problem before, but before i went to macau i gave my password to my dear friend in case of comments which reveal my identity (i’ve had one before and you kindly told me about it!). so i guess i’m just leaving it as it is in case i drop dead here in macau or something. πŸ˜‰


I have read the story on her and I think it’s absolutely amazing. I guess blogging really has become our way to broadcast ourselves. An individual can share their thoughts and feelings with the world without paying a dime, plus even have their own online community.

There was a wordpress plugin that I ran across before that would email details of your site to whatever email address you had set just incase you didn’t log in for X amount of time. This could be used to let a family member know of your site. Unfortunately though I cannot find the link to it at the moment.

Hi Mused… I came across your post from the main WordPress page. I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the past few months, although I’ve been blogging for about a year.

I decided to put all my user names and their respective passwords on a spreadsheet and have given a slip of paper to my brother as to where he can find it on my computer.

It is a little morbid I guess but I, too, have made some wonderful friendships in the blogging world and would hate to leave them wondering.


[…] life, opinion — Apar @ 4:41 pm One coming across the life of Riley, I also came across this one. Now for all those compulsive bloggers, may be you all will mull over […]

I myself, have made few friends on blogs for whatever reason I do not know. I do know however, that if I were to dies, I would want it posted in my blog and the blog saved for my family and children. That they might remember me. I have friends on others types of sites however, that I do care about deeply. But I wonder if it would be kinder to let them think I am just buzy and forgot to ever come back.

Good point about monitoring comments, too, sulz. (I remember that one.) It’s hard to do when you’re away. I only moderate the first comment from a commenter (unless there’s lots of links; then it goes to moderation, too) but I certainly monitor them several times a day when I’m home. It’s probably a good idea that at least one other person can get into our blogs if need be, so I’m glad you found someone you can trust for that. —You’d better not! πŸ˜› We want you home, safe, and blogging about it all! πŸ™‚

Hi, Tazzy10, thanks for stopping by! I so agree. Blogging is a real opportunity to build community, particularly with people we would not otherwise meet. It’s kind of ironic that Olive’s blog will probably get more readers than ever, now that her passing is in the news. I do find her inspiring.

Shane, thank you for letting us know about that plug-in. I think it’s brilliant and a real service. I’ll start searching for it, and please let me know if you find it again. I particularly like this idea because once installed, it would take the next step automatically. It reminds me of a service some insurance and investment companies offer, where if a customer has not paid their bill in over 60 days a notice would be sent to a family member they designate. That way, if there is a problem in the person’s life, someone would be there to take care of it before policies expire, etc. The plug-in you mention would keep us from “expiring” prematurely on our blog πŸ˜‰ as well as triggering those intentions for our last blog post, or whatever. πŸ™‚

I’m so pleased you found my post, Julian! It really is a challenging topic to think about and talk about, isn’t it? I’m finding the high-quality, and really comforting level of commenting on this issue heartwarming, though. This topic obviously strikes a chord in many of us. What you have done by leaving the information with your brother demonstrates your caring for your blog friends and readers, and is most commendable. I appreciate you sharing that! πŸ™‚

Thanks for the link, Random Ruminations. The topic has generated more interest than I’d have thought. Take care!

Hello, kachinanova. I’m glad you have contributed to this discussion. I think it’s wonderful that you would want to save your blog for your family. Blogs can be a real “slice of life” and I’ll bet it would mean a great deal to them to have this record of your thoughts and interests. It’s been my experience that even when a blogger or online friend becomes too busy to blog, I still want to know why, and what’s happening in their life! I would think your friends might wonder and care about you if you drifted away, too. I would like to visit your blog, but there is no clickable link in your comment. 😦 If I can find it, I’ll pay you a visit. πŸ™‚ Thank you for stopping by!

Blogging at 108 yo is kind of impressive.
Good article, a lil’ sad though.

When I first came to wp.com I posted to the forum about this issue. I thought you might like to read the thread http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=1869&replies=24#post-10530

This is something I’ve thought about a couple of times, but I try not to because it’s a little morbid. When someone stops posting blogs without explanation you have no way of knowing what they are doing, and I find that an unsettling thought. Like someone could be dead and you have no way of knowing for sure. I dunno, it’s just one of those things that bothers me. You’re right, it is scary.

Hi, saw your post on wordpress.com and thought I’d come visit. It’s so true, what would we do? What would happen, and how many people would be left unawares? I’ve known 3 bloggers that have passed on. I wasn’t a regular, but I knew of them. My family also got in an accident about a year-and-a-half ago and after the fact (it wasn’t serious, we slid down an embankment and didn’t roll), it really got me thinking on the same subject. What’s the emergency ID card? Sounds like a decent idea.

Thank you Julien. It is a strange topic to contemplate, I know, but I think to be able to blog at 108 and have it enhance her life so very much is something to celebrate.

That was a wonderful discussion, timethief! I’m impressed you were able to pull it up; you must have a good filing system. It added a lot to the discussion here, as you and your responders brought up some issues I hadn’t thought of. I don’t think I’d want my blog to become a “monument”, but, on the other hand, I’d probably want to leave it up at least for a while. Sometimes people’s journals are published after their death…it could be a bit like that. I notice the thread was from over two years ago. I couldn’t help noticing the level of thoughtful input in the forum at that time; makes me feel a bit nostalgic. πŸ˜‰ Thank you very much for sharing this, my friend.

Very true, B0bby. It’s uncomfortable, as we don’t like to imagine we’ll ever stop blogging, or anything else for that matter. You’ve got me thinking that perhaps, if I’m able to find the plugin Shane mentioned, above, I might want to include a fellow blogger on the list of informants. This is something like a will, I guess. It’s worse thinking about it than actually doing it. πŸ˜•

Hi abritdifferent. I’m pleased you found me and decided to stop in. You say you did get the information that bloggers you knew of had died. I’m sorry for your loss, but it must, at least, be good to know what happened to them. That accident sounds very frightening! So glad you all are OK. The Bloggers Emergency I.D. Card can be found by clicking on the highlighted “Moonbeam McQueen” near the end of my post; she has a printable version there, as well as some more great discussion on this topic.

Hi Muse, I was recently wondering about this very thing because one of the blogs I’ve been visiting over the last year or so has not been updated since June. You’ve spurred me on to drop an e-mail to ask if everything is ok.

Thoughtful post.

WOW! Thank you for your thoughts!

Blogging is a terrific way to connect with others…and it IS nice to know what’s going on with someone if they ‘disappear’. I’ve had a couple of my favorite bloggers do that…and it’s creepy and confusing (especially if they don’t answer a personal email).

I’m very fortunate that a couple people close to me read my blog regularly…so I’m thinking that they would take it upon themselves to post a note should something happen to me.

However, the little ID Card that Moonbeam created is a fantastic idea.

Blogging at 108 – hell, LIVING at 108 – is amazing πŸ™‚ Think I’ll go check out what she had to say! Thanks!

Hey, teeveebee. I’m glad you will try to get in touch with that blogger. It’s really hard to know, isn’t it? People take vacations; have unexpected family occurrences, but we may never know. Thank you. I’m glad you found this helpful!

kaylee, you are MORE than welcome.

Hello, Grace, I’m sorry that happened to you with bloggers you know. I think sometimes, when people get busy they think we won’t miss them or notice. But if they didn’t answer emails either, I’d begin to wonder too! Creepy and confusing: that’s a good way of putting it. We’re left to think what we will…You are welcome, and thank you for visiting. I definitely recommend following the links Moonbeam left for Olive’s blog. She was so aware and bright at 108; truly amazing!

Muse, if I ever decide to start a “secret” blog, you’ll be the first to know. πŸ™‚
I can barely keep up with this one though. Maybe if I ever get to retire…

This turned out to be quite a popular topic, didn’t it? I spent some time over at Olive’s site today. What a wonderful “blob” she had. Thank goodness he took the time to write and record her life.
I also went to the link Moonbeam left about the soldier. How sad, but at least he was able to share his thoughts and wishes. It must have been so comforting (maybe not at first)to his family to have read that.
I have to admit that after a period of time, bloggers do become friends. I have met a few in person that I had “known” online for several years.
You never know when your time is up. I think I will make sure some of my family members get my passwords, just in case…
I’m really glad you wrote this post.

Okay I dont want to live life anymore πŸ˜›

I appreciate you coming back, BD, and letting us know you read the two folks Moonbeam mentioned. Moonbeam ought to get partial credit, or a finder’s fee or something on this post. πŸ˜‰ You might want to try timethief’s link above, too—very good discussion, there. Yes, this topic seems to have provoked some thoughtful discussion! It made the front page, too, which gives a great opportunity to meet some new and interesting bloggers. πŸ™‚ I’ve never met anyone I first knew online. It’s hard to imagine what that would be like; perhaps I’ll find out sometime. Thank you, I am, too.

kaylee? πŸ˜• you put up a “razz” face with this—you ok with this post? You have a long way to go to get to 108, hon. I plan to read many more of your blog posts, all right?

Hmmm… food for thought. Whenever I stop updating for a while, my online chums assume the worst and send flowers. Terribly awkward.

kyknoord: Yes, but at least you have all those nice posies to console you. πŸ™‚

Yeah i am okay with this post muse just been in a little bit of a negative mood lately..

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