Yesterday I found out that a relative died. I say this not to gather sympathy, but to let you know where my head is at. Monday started out like any normal day, where the kids were loud and all over the place. Of course things were scheduled for that day making it a bit less than normal, such as a photo shoot. Since Kyle is home for a visit, we wanted to get some pictures professionally done of all 4 kids. Getting them all ready and to the orchard (yes, we had the pictures taken “on location”) was a chore and a half, and between that and the photo shoot itself a full day could have been logged.
After the pictures, I had a funeral to go to. A member of my church Knights of Columbus chapter recently passed away after a long and full life, and I was attending his funeral as a member of the community. While at the funeral my cell phone went off, and thankfully it was on “vibrate” so it didn’t disturb the proceedings. I waited until the funeral was over before checking the message. It was my brother, who said something about there being some news, and I needed to call.
After calling my brother, who wasn’t there so I left a message, I got home, and found that my mother had called and left a cryptic message. I called her, and again had to leave a message. So, I jumped online to check email and see what was new on Facebook. My cousin had left a note that he had learned that morning his younger brother had died.
Yes, I found out that a relative died on Facebook.
I feel bad for a number of reasons. I hadn’t seen this cousin of mine for a few years, even though he lives in the same city as me, just a few miles away. It’s my own fault, really, I’ve been too wrapped up in my own life to see beyond my immediate family. Part of this has spilled out into my friendships as well. I’ve been a lousy friend, not contacting friends for years at a time.
My mother called me back shortly after I found out, and I got more details. Turns out my cousin, who was about 30, died of alcohol poisoning. After a party he passed out in his car and never woke up. There’s a lot of background to his situation, but nobody saw this coming.
After being a parent myself, I can only imagine what my aunt and uncle are going through. I called as soon as I could and talked to my uncle very briefly. He couldn’t talk much, but mentioned that he had thought of me since finding out the previous day. He was on his way into Seattle from several hundred miles away. I hadn’t talked to him in a couple of years either, so that simply underscores just how bad my personal situation is.
So why is it that I learned of a relative dying through an online social network instead of a phone call? Partly because of my own personal issues with staying in contact with people. It also demonstrates just how pervasive our online presence has become, sad as it may be.