Valentine’s Day provides some good encouragement to do something nice for a special someone.
It’s often focused on the here and now, but this quasi-holiday can also serve as a reminder of things you can do to help your loved one after you pass away.
So after getting flowers and a box of candy for your significant other, consider the option of naming them your Legacy Contact on Facebook.
Facebook lets people choose an important person – as long as they’re one of your Facebook friends – to play a role on your Facebook account after you die.
Not surprisingly, I chose my wife as my Legacy Contact. It’s like a morbid, modern-day request that she “Be My Valentine.”
If she accepts the request, it will give her several options – including getting word to Facebook that I’ve passed on.
I like the idea that she will have the option of changing my profile image and cover photo and adding info to let folks know I’m no longer among the living.
It would also give her an additional group of people she could lean on for support – and a way to contact them.
Once she sends Facebook my 8,000-word obituary, my account will be “Memorialized” and Facebook will put the word “Remembering” next to my name.
From that point on, nobody will be able to log in to my Facebook account, so it will be secure.
For those more interested in completely disappearing, Facebook also provides an option to permanently delete your account, too.
I don’t think it would be right to completely delete my account.
Depending on how long a person has been sharing things, a memorialized Facebook account can serve as a lengthy journal of what was important to somebody during their life and what they did for fun.
I’ve seen what the death of a close loved one does to people. I don’t want to interfere with my wife’s grief.
What if she wants to look back on memories that aren’t in those old-style photo albums we’ve got collecting dust on a bookshelf?
Telling Facebook I want my account deleted after I die would destroy all that information forever.
Memorializing my account will leave all my posts, photos and videos available for years, or for however long the Internet works, I suppose.
There’s more benefits to choosing a Legacy Contact, too. For one, my wife will be able to write up a post to be pinned to the top of my profile page.
Facebook suggests it could be details about a funeral service or a final message to friends on my behalf.
The Legacy Contact can also respond to friend requests. I envision a long-lost relative or one of those cousins who moved to the other side of the planet wishing they could take a walk back through my Facebook’s memory lane.
I believe they should be able to do so – but if they weren’t a Facebook friend beforehand, they’d be out of luck in the absence of a Legacy Contact who could approve their friend request.
And since it’s my wife, I think it would be nice for her to be able to decide what she wants to see in the profile photo area – perhaps a photo of the two of us inside a heart would be nice.
The Legacy Contact has other powers, too. They can download a copy of everything their friend has shared, too.
Allowing this to happen is an additional step. You have to check the box before you pass away to authorize this. If you allow it, your Legacy Contact will be able to download a file containing your list of friends, all your posts, photos and videos and your events.
The Legacy Contact will NOT be able to read messages, know what ads you clicked nor view your “pokes,” security and settings information nor pictures you synced but did not post.
I don’t know if my wife will want to see me on Facebook after I pass on, or not. She may want to forget or she may want to capture and save as much as she can.
Establishing her as my Legacy Contact will provide her with options and keep doors open that would be permanently shut if I chose to have my account deleted.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association