Death and the Email Account


My mother-in-law died a few weeks ago, and one of the most surprising things my wife has had to deal with in the process is her mother’s email account. At first it was replying to emails from those who haven’t yet heard, but while difficult, these quickly became few and far between. It was what happened after that that was odd and interesting.

As a “watcher,” there’s no reason to delete emails, or unsubscribe from anything, so little by little the inbox is overtaken by mailing lists, special today-only discounts, and somewhat poignant “come log in and see what your friends are up to” messages from social services. There’s no longer any human, personal content flowing through, but there’s still constant activity.

Watching an email account after the death of its owner is like watching the weeds reclaim an abandoned house.