What To Do With Contacts When A Friend Or Family Member Dies

Some really sad family news today has prompted me to re-visit this question..when a friend or family member dies, what should you do regarding the contact details all over your technology?

I am talking mobile phone details, MSN contact, Skype contact, Twitter, Facebook, email etc etc.

A year ago a really close friend died – out of the blue – I still have his name and number on my mobile phone and feel I can’t delete it as it would be disrespectful (I know, crazy!).

With the sudden death of a close family member today, my Daughter, an 11 year old, said “I am never deleting him off MSN”.  She spoke with my wife’s Uncle almost daily on MSN, they were close and it is a heartbreaking seeing your child so upset but the underlying question is, what should we do with contacts after their death?

I know everyone needs to grieve and some find different things help aid the recovery and help get through the pain.  But is there a kind-of unwritten rule with technology?

What have you done, did you delete the contact from your phone or removed them from your MSN or Skype?  I have to say I am struggling to know what tell my Daughter to do and guess she’ll probably remove the contact one day, but the longer it stays, the longer it becomes a personal memorial – clearly I will do nothing right now as it is so fresh.

Any ideas appreciated.

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5 thoughts on “What To Do With Contacts When A Friend Or Family Member Dies”

  1. There are still names and numbers from a long time ago in IT sources and old fashioned paper address books of people who have died. I actually like to suddenly see the name and the associated memories. I find ‘couples’ particularly poignant and very often will telephone the surviving partner having accidentally seen an old entry …… I’m sure your daughter feels like you do ……

  2. Grieving takes time and has different phases. At first you desperately want to hold on to the things that remind you of the person that has gone. At one point it might feel good to let go some of the things you have hold on to because you now know that the memory of the person will never go away, you will carry it with you wherever you go. Sometimes it is good to ‘let go’ in a ceremonial way. Even if it is deleting a phone number from your phone’s memory. Maybe you can tell your daughter she can envision a communication line like MSN between her and the person’s soul that does not need any internet connection. No, it is not the same, but maybe a little comforting. Sometimes it feels better specifically not to let go of things. Well, then just don’t. There is a time and a place for everything. Technology is no different.

  3. You have to let people find there own path on this one. Some people have to clear out and move on as soon as possible. Other people take a little longer to deal with the fact that a person is gone, especially when connections with that person had been virtual a great deal of the time. There is no disrespectful handling of this as long as long as it is personal and isolated. Anything that has wider consequence needs to be checked with the immediate family first.

    Grief is personal, so only personal actions will seem right, trust yourself, or your daughter, to deal with it in the best way they will for themselves at the time. And that time will heal the short term grief and allow the long term to be about good memories.

    Good luck.


  4. Thanks guys, was wondering if there was a standard way of dealing with it – away from emotions I mean. But I guess everyone is different.

    Cheers 🙂

  5. Dear Kevin
    About deleting from your contact list,I keep my friends there. When a loved one has crossed over their “spirit energy” simply makes a transformation ,dealing with not “operating” in the physical.Death is a transition.There is a dog named ‘Rocko”. a motorcycle accident.Malibu. You asked me .You know where to find me.In love and in light.

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