What happens to your Facebook page when you die? My father passed away about a year and a half ago. My mom had the password for his Facebook account and she mentioned to me that she intended to log in and delete his account “after a reasonable time”. I begged her not to do it because there were so many notes, funny comments and photos from my Dad, many of which existed solely on Facebook, and which I desperately didn’t want to lose. My mom had a valid argument too though, she hated seeing his face constantly popping up on Facebook.
Last Friday would have been my father’s 61st birthday, a fact I was well and painfully aware of long before Facebook sent me the usual reminder. Throughout the day my father’s name was prominent in the righthand side of my feed. Did I want to wish him a happy birthday? Well, yes, yes actually I really would like to. But since that’s not possible how about I just sit here and cry and feel like garbage, thank you very much Mr.Facebook.
I mentioned to a friend online that it was my Dad’s birthday and I was missing him horribly. She pointedly asked, “Did Facebook tell you to wish him a happy birthday like they did last year?” She then went on to suggest that I look in to memorializing his Facebook page.
I was aware that Facebook often sets up pages as a memorial. It is something I’d considered in the past but I hadn’t looked into the details on how to do it because I assumed it was something my mom, as the executer of his will, would need to do. I expected a tricky form, one where we would likely have to present a scan of his death certificate. I dreaded asking my mom to do it because I worried she would instead start talking about deleting his page again, or worse yet just go ahead and delete it without further discussion.
My friend sent me a link to some information about how to memorialize a Facebook page. I read through the definition of memorializing an account, and what happens to your account once its memorialized, and finally got to the part where it said “To report a profile to be memorialized, please contact us.” Clicking on contact us I was brought to the “Memorialization Request” form, which was shockingly simple.
I called my mom to verify that she’d be okay with me requesting that Facebook set my Dad’s account to memorial mode. She burst into tears, and said “Oh God, yes please!” Seeing the constant reminders of the fact that it was his birthday had been bothering her too. She told me it had been a wretched day and she would be so relieved if I took care of this.
Filling out the “Memorialization Request” form was ridiculously easy. I had to provide a link to my Dad’s Facebook account, his date of birth, his date of death, and a link to his online obituary. That’s it. I wasn’t asked to prove who I was, or what our relationship was. I didn’t have to provide his death certificate or any other supporting evidence. Simple. Done. Within three days I had a very polite and respectful response from Facebook offering their condolences on my loss, offering to answer any further questions I might have, and letting me know that my memorization request had been approved.
Now when I go to my Dad’s Facebook page it says “Remembering” above his name, and the banner image behind his icon has been removed (it’s now just solid black). Other than that his account remains the same. Everything is still there. I can still comment on his feed. I can still tag my Dad in photos and have them show up on his page. However now his name no longer shows up as a suggestion when I go to recommend a page, and next year I won’t get a reminder asking me to wish him happy birthday. It’s an improvement. It leaves me with a sense of relief.
I was shocked by how quick and easy the whole process was, and I regretted that I hadn’t done it sooner. That’s why I thought I would share this in a blog post and perhaps help some other folk to discover how very easy this loose end is to take care of.