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Dead letter drop keeps family in touch

New York: Those who consider the Internet an indispensable part of their lives may be pleased to learn that it can also play a role after death.

A Web site called offers its users a place to store email messages online so they can be sent to family members and friends after each writer has died. Think of it as email from beyond the grave.

The site was conceived by a Los Angeles lawyer, Todd Michael Krim, on a particularly turbulent transatlantic flight to London last year. As the plane shook violently, he realised that he hadn't properly said goodbye to his loved ones.

While the "afterlife emails", as they're called, became the basis for creating the site, Mr Krim envisioned FinalThoughts as a free, one-stop source where people interested in death and dying could find all kinds of information, such as descriptions of estate and funeral planning and online discussions about spirituality.

With help from his three brothers and $US500,000 ($838,000) in seed money, Mr Krim began FinalThoughts last September.

"I want people to recognise this is something they should be doing for their family," he said. "The practical side is to ease the financial and emotional burdens by making these decisions in advance."

Of all the site's features, Mr Krim is asked most often about the afterlife email.

Each user chooses a "guardian angel" who will notify FinalThoughts after the user has died. The site notifies intended recipients via email that a message from the person who has died is waiting to be read.

To ensure that Uncle Joe or Aunt Mary doesn't keel over in shock after receiving a message that appears to have come from the great beyond, each recipient must click on a hyperlink to view the message.

So far, none of the afterlife email messages has been activated because no-one who has signed up for the service has died yet.

Gayle Groves, 56, a private investigator in Northern California, is convinced of the site's value. When her husband, Bob, died suddenly two years ago, Ms Groves was distressed that he had never discussed funeral arrangements or other end-of-life issues, such as organ donation. Unsure of his wishes, Ms Groves agonised over the decision, then donated his kidneys and liver for transplants, acting on what her sons thought their father would have wanted.

Ms Groves was directed to FinalThoughts by a kidney transplant recipient who was familiar with the site's online organ donor consent forms. Now she takes solace in making her own wishes available to her family and friends.

The New York Times

Posted for general discussion. Personally I reckon dead is convincingly final, which is why I spend everyday writing material for my RIP CD-ROM. Yesterday I ordered a 30 gig megahertz-freakie graphics box to boost up the art studio. I figure by the time I tweak enough of my articles with visual the family trust beneficiaries will get satisfaction. Anyway it's a helluva way to divvy the spoils of my final demise, and I get the giggles everyday at the thoughts that drive macabre moi.

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (, April 14, 2000


>Anyway it's a helluva way to divvy the spoils of my final demise, and I get the giggles everyday at the thoughts that drive macabre moi.

What a cool idea! Wish I had thought of something like this. Thanks for posting this.

I had thought of doing a "last video tape," but now, if I ever do, I'll consider doing it in Quick Time (or some such) so that it can be viewed online.

Amazing what this technology has done for us.

-- (, April 14, 2000.

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