When a blogger dies what should you do with the blog, and more importantly do you owe the readers of the blog something, such as a time or a place to grieve like you would with friends and family?
A friend, elswinger, and avid blogger died a month ago after a series of long illnesses. It was sudden and surprising, but not unexpected. Since he had no family many things fell to me, such as notifying friends he had passed, planing the memorial, and cleaning up his apartment. He had discussed all his last wishes with me over the years and had committed some to paper.
When he died, though, one of my first thoughts was what about the blog? He had told me he had readers and had made a few friends through his blog. Would they like to know? Moreover, in his blog he explained in graphic detail all the medical problems that had affected him over the years. It seemed that his readers or anyone who stumbled on the blog in the future might want to know what happened with his illnesses.
Ultimately, I felt there was a duty to let his readers know. Although they could be anywhere in the world, if they were interested enough to read they would like to know what had happened. It also seemed liked an unspoken last request, the coda to a hard life that would have a weight, though fleeting, more important than a headstone, which he was not going to have.
As soon as I published the death notice I received several queries from readers and from The Stranger, where he had been an avid commentator. From the outpouring of responses it was obvious that the readers did want some sort of closure. His blog was well written, but also had a narrative sense (as every life does) that would have left readers wondering what happened.
I don’t know who will be reading the blog five years from now, but it is obvious that a blog that is about an individual needs to be closed when a writer dies. In the same way that friends and family want a memorial, readers need a virtual memorial, or, at least, a way to close their reading.
For the survivors and heirs of a blogger, you do have an obligation to say something, even if it is Rest In Peace. And if your blog means that much to you, you should tell someone what you want to have happen in case of the unthinkable. Your readers will appreciate it.