"When Online Friends Pass"

Many of us have worked online for years. And, over those years, we have managed to develop many lasting friendships with other online business people and our readers. Often, we even talk on the phone or using Skype.

Over time, because we all get older and/or stuff happens, people pass out of this life into the next. I've lost several friends over the 15 years I've been online.

My most recent loss was Ron Rink. He was highly intelligent, had led a fascinating life and was great fun. Ron could always make me laugh.

We had been good friends for years – and he leaves a great hole in my online life. I knew he was terminally ill for about a year, but that doesn't make things any easier.

He told me a few weeks ago that it looked like he was coming into the home stretch. Then … nothing. I had no way of knowing if he was too ill to write or if he had passed. I finally checked Google for an obituary – and found it.

Which brings me to the point ...

As mentioned before, I've lost many good friends online. If you work online, you most likely have the same situation of making close online friends. These friends are just as real as our off-line friends. And, I'm NOT talking about Facebook friends, here!

The problem is, I wonder if our families are aware that we care about people we work with online just as if we were in office building. Or, do they think our online friends aren't “real” people?

In only a couple of instances have I been notified by a good friend's family that they have left our world. I'm usually left knowing only that they have disappeared until I track it down, or “hear” about it, later.

Of course, I have no way of knowing how many people keep passwords on their computers. Maybe more than I think since I don't bother. But, barring a computer being “locked,” it would be easy enough to access a person's email list – or, even address book – and notify friends and business associates of a family member's passing. In fact, even looking through the email would turn up those who are closest to the deceased.

When we go, our family provides an obituary and lets off-line friends know about services for us. Why is it different with online friends?

I suggest that online business people simply don't always think to leave instructions with our families.

We should rectify that.

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* dr. jl scott is the Founder of Chamber of Commerce - on the Web™ http://www.ChamberofCommerce-ontheWeb.com - and also the publisher of the Online Business Trade Journal™ - the blog that keeps you up to date with online business coming of age. Visit: http://www.OnlineBusinessTradeJournal.com

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