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An After Death Email Experience

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David Silversmith
David Silversmith

"Die, my dear? Why, that's the last thing I'll do!"  Those are the famous last words of the comedian Groucho Marx.  But several new Internet sites are trying to prove old Groucho wrong by allowing you to communicate after death. With great names like DeathSwitch and myLastEmail these services are offering to ensure that your final words are sent after you have passed. 

Deathswitch offers to help you bridge mortality with the idea that you can pass along critical information that you may not have had the time to share.  They highlight some information that could prove very useful like computer passwords and financial account information.  They also point out some ideas that range from touching love notes, to finally revealing unspeakable secrets and finally to getting the last word in an argument. 

With so many people communicating via the Internet, another purpose behind these services is to notify your "electronic" friends.  You could set up the service to send out emails to members of mailing lists, gaming guilds, discussion boards, and other virtual communities you participate in.

So How Do They Know When You Are Dead?
Any Monty Python fan is just dying (pardon the pun) to scream out "I'm not dead yet!"  Well these sites each take different approaches to this issue.  With Deathswitch you setup a schedule of emails - daily, weekly, monthly or even annually - and when you fail to respond to a specified number of messages you are declared dead.  At that time your final messages are sent out.  Certainly if your post death email provides unspeakable secrets - you don't want to get this wrong and have the email sent early. 

myLastEmail takes a different approach. With myLastEmail you have to tell some person or persons, close to you that your have registered with and give them instructions to email myLastEmail upon your demise. It will be up to one of your survivors to contact us when you have died. MyLastEmail will then look for official death notices or obituaries before emailing your final messages to  each of your chosen recipients. In that email will be a website connection which they click on and which will allow them access to your internet legacy of documents, photographs and video messages.

On the one hand it seems like a simple note in an envelope my your bed that says "Open if I die" seems easier.  Or even an old-fashioned paper will with a lawyer or safe-deposit box. But for those of us who want to be high tech to the end you know have the option of emailing from beyond

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