Information on Digital Legacies

Candi Cann Shares Some Resources

Photo courtesy of Candi Cann

Candi Cann is an assistant professor of Religion at Baylor University who studies death and how people remember the dead. In her book "Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-First Century," she explores modern mourning practices as well, ranging from memorial t-shirts and tattoos, to social media tributes. “Many people are memorializing loved ones online, in digital media, and social network platforms," she says. "These forms of social media... are particularly useful tools for keeping some kind of ongoing relationship with the deceased and their community.”

If you want to learn more about options for 21st century memorials, here's her list of resources:


Digital Afterlives

When it comes to remembering the dead online, Candi suggests her list list of dos and don’ts for social media, which includes tips such as:

  • Don’t announce the death of someone online unless you are sure that the family, friends and anyone that should know about the death, knows already.
  • If a family decides to leave a Facebook page active, a Twitter feed open, or an Instagram account on so that you can write comments, post messages, etc., please think about your audience.

If you’re wondering about what could happen to your Facebook and Twitter accounts once you’re no longer around to tend them, Candi recommends two books, “Digital Death” and “Your Digital Afterlife.” She says each offers useful information on how to preserve a social media legacy. For the curious, there’s also The Tweet Hereafter, an online collation of “last tweets” by people with verified deaths.

While it’s not exclusively about digital afterlives, Candi says her favorite site to recommend is Caleb Wilde's blog; he's a funeral director and thinker on all things death in the United States. You can also check out his TED talk on embracing death.

Digital Memorials

For people who want to create an online memorial for a deceased love one, Candi suggests Keep the Memory Alive and Journal of Life.

Digital Asset Management

GEN-ARC, and Eterniam are companies that let customers create online archives, a kind of online safety deposit box for photos, videos, documents and other important digital assets they want loved to be able to access after the account holder has died.

For help with managing online accounts, Candi suggests BestBequest and Cirrus Legacy, two companies that help users transfer control to loved ones after they’ve died.

Digital Ghosts

On a more playful note, Dead Man’s Switch, Ghost Memo, and AfterWords lets users send posthumous messages to loved ones. Candi also recommends Lifenaut, a website that lets you create virtual avatars that speak, act, and mimic your actions and voice, allowing people to “visit” you after you’ve passed.

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