Set up memorial page for relative with 6-9 months to live
April 28, 2014 6:22 PM   Subscribe

My stepfather-in-law was recently diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that's metastasized to spine/hip/neck and he's facing chemo and a not-so-great prognosis. What are options for setting up something like a memorial page that his former students/colleagues/friends/family can post well wishes and reminisces and the like that he can read now and be cheered up?

The guy's 81, taught philosophy for many years, traveled to Cuba multiple times, really and truly loves discussing and debating and arguing in the pure sense of the word, and is just such a sweet and awesome guy. As of the end of March, he had a cold he just couldn't shake, and now he's facing chemo and has a catheter/drain implanted in his chest so they can drain his lung a few times a week and fucking JFC what the fuck. And he's just facing it with such aplomb, I mean he's sad about dying and missing being around, but he's still laughing and joking and living his life.

His wife (my mother-in-law) wants to set up a website for various people to post things to. The only thing I could think of off the top of my head was his Facebook page. It's pretty sparse right now, so it could be set up pretty easy. I was thinking of emailing his former colleagues, former students, etc. and asking them to post little snippets of what they remember from him. So he could log onto fb and see what people were saying, maybe have a conversation with people, see newer pics, etc. I mean, it sounds like exactly what fb is supposed to be for, right?

So what am I missing? Is there a better option? I know fb will now memorialize a page upon a user's death; how does that work in practice? And would it be possible to make a book from this information?
posted by disconnect to Human Relations (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My coworkers who have been seriously ill had sites on Caring Bridge.
posted by thelonius at 6:28 PM on April 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Came here to say Caring Bridge as well - and this is something the hospital he's getting treated at may be able to help with.

Also - you didn't mention it but if they aren't already working with hospice they should be. My mother died of lung cancer and I wish we had connected with hospice much sooner. They can do a lot to make his remaining time better and one no longer needs a less than 6 months prognosis to qualify for care.
posted by leslies at 6:32 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I did this for a family friend and teacher for 25 years in the weeks leading up to her death. I made a Facebook 'page', like a fan page (not a personal profile), invited people I went to school with (where she taught) to like the page and share stories and memories and well-wishes. It spread around and ended up with almost 1000 fans and several hundred messages from old students that her daughter read to her up until the morning of her death. It was very meaningful to her and her family.

Her daughter printed out all the messages that people posted and had them placed with her mother's body during her cremation to 'send her off' in a way. You could print the messages and bind them for a book for your family later after he passes.
posted by greta simone at 6:42 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Came in to recommend Caring Bridge as well; a friend with cancer is using it and it's very intuitive. And I'll second leslies point about the hospice. The hospice people are just the best there are when it comes to end-of-life stuff.
posted by yoink at 6:47 PM on April 28, 2014

Here's Facebook's page for requesting the memorialization of a timeline -- a.k.a. notifying them of a user's death. More information is here (scroll down). Be aware that any person with the appropriate proof can use the request page.
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:47 PM on April 28, 2014

I've seen people do this really well with Facebook -- especially if he has a relatively uncommon name and enough connections that you all can use to get more people to connect to him. The person who was sick was not someone I knew very well, but it was still quite touching to see so many friends posting photos while he was still alive. He'll probably get a lot of friend requests and hear from many old acquaintances, which is a nice benefit.

A fan page (that you or someone else administer) is another great way to do this, because then people don't have to send a friend request -- they can just 'like' the page.

I'd avoid calling it a memorial page -- that wording can indicate he's already died to some folks.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:53 PM on April 28, 2014

Not everyone is on Facebook so I'd be concerned with the page being hosted there. He's 81 so maybe think about who knows him and whether or not getting onto Facebook is something they'd be likely to do. If not, they might be disappointed they couldn't participate.

Sending you good thoughts. He sounds like a good guy. We should all hope to face the end of life with such grace.
posted by Beti at 6:54 PM on April 28, 2014

Nthing CaringBridge.

He sounds like a great guy with an interesting life.
posted by kmennie at 7:14 PM on April 28, 2014

As long as he's still living, use some word other than "memorial." You don't have a memorial for someone who's alive. You could call it a "[Name] appreciation page."
posted by John Cohen at 7:24 PM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

CarePages is another service like CaringBridge; frequently hospitals are associated with one service or another and let people send things from the gift shop up to the room if you're interested in that. I believe both services can be turned into a book for a memento for loved ones.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:08 PM on April 28, 2014

posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:16 PM on April 28, 2014

Yep, Caring Bridge.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:22 PM on April 28, 2014

Yep, Caring Bridge works well. I'm the admin for my sick best friend's page, and it's easy for both the users and for me.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:52 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is also Lotsa Helping Hands, which lets you add in various modules.

We used it to line up volunteers to help out with meals and errands, but there is a guest book, announcements, emails, and other features.

It's free, and pretty awesome.

(Also, maybe play up the "Guest Book" name and not "memorial"!)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:01 AM on April 29, 2014

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