If you’re on the mailing list, you must not be dead


My dead mother gets mail. Lots of it. Almost as much as when she was alive. Some of it makes sense – hospital bills, explanation of  benefits from Medicare, utility bills. Most of it does not. She just got a request from her church to give to their annual appeal. Since the funeral was there and all, you’d think they would know she is gone. Comcast wants her to sign up today, even though I just mailed them a death certificate and the modem from her house. Medicare sends a note saying: “You have not paid your premium. Your benefits are currently inactive. If you have died, please disregard this notice.” The funniest one so far? I changed her address so her mail would be forwarded to me, causing the phone company to send her…congratulations on her new home and a brand new phone book.

Is this the only way to quit Facebook? (Photo: Huffygirl)

I find it amusing, annoying, irritating, but usually not upsetting. I dutifully scribble on the backs of reply cards “Emily has died. Please remove her from your list,” and send them back. Sometimes the note is sassy, if they’ve annoyed me enough times with their mailings: “I regret I cannot attend your event, as I have recently died.” Sometimes bittersweet: “The home care nurses were excellent, but I really am tired of receiving surveys for my dead mother to complete. ”  Sometimes dead pan:” Emily has died and is not interested in receiving mailings from your assisted living.” I am wondering how many creative responses I can devise before the mail eventually stops.

But it’s not going to stop, at  least for a while. I have to drive 40 minutes to her house once a week to pick up the junk mail so it won’t accumulate. I still get mail at my house for people who lived here 25 years ago, so why should junk mailers stop sending mail to a dead person?

Even harder than paper mail is internet mail. I’m sure she’s still getting emails to an inbox that no longer exists. I have no way of knowing how many times an email must be returned before the spammers will stop.

The hardest of all – trying to quit Facebook. When I went in to deactivate her page, FB would not let me complete it without giving a reason. Of  the many choices listed , death was not one of them. My mood was dark at the time, so I chose “other” and typed in: “I have died so am no longer able to use Facebook. Please deactivate my account.” Not long after Mom got a cheery email from FB.” Hello Emily, your Facebook account is still waiting when you’re ready to return. Just click on the link to reactivate your account. Your Facebook friends are waiting.”

Sigh. Ben Franklin was wrong. The only certain things are death, taxes, AND that you’ll never get off the $&#!% mailing lists.

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20 thoughts on “If you’re on the mailing list, you must not be dead

  1. Oh, those darn mailers!

    We’ll have to start asking before applying anywhere, and when I die, how do we notify you to make things truly stop? Do you have a “death” clause?

    or better yet, “Hey, dad, you’re getting near death, start working on that mail, will ya? It would really help out your off-spring.”

    Sorry, you’re having to deal with all this and of course, sorry to hear your mom isn’t here to read her mail. (and love you of course!) I was going to say to have the post office stop delivering…but what if there’s something important and not just junk? Can you work with the post office to have her mail forwarded to your place so you don’t have to drive?

    Sandi
    http://www.ahhsome.wordpress.com

    • Ironically I do have her mail forwarded to me already, but thanks to automated mail sorting, some things slip through. I think the mail carrier has figured it out though, because now it’s mostly non-first-class mail that still gets deliverd.

      I’m thinking of writing a blog about all the things it would be nice for parents to do before they decide to up and die – tie up all the lose ends and all. Not sure if I have enough material yet to make it meaningful though.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  2. That is f****** crazy! Junk mail are like rabbits, endlessly multiplying! Sorry about your mom, but, one thing is going to pick up the junk mail will add to your rememberance of her, if that is any consolation. Peace!

    • Good point. I supposed I could just let the mail sit and not go out there so often, but I have to check on the house anyway.

      I sometimes think that junk mail was invented by the postal service so they would have something to do. About 85-90% of the mail is stuff we don’t really want, or could receive electronically instead.

    • Thank you.
      The credit card applications do not stop right away, as far as I can tell. It might be interesting to apply for a credit card for a dead person and see if it actually gets approved. I once applied for a credit card for my neighbor’s dog, but since I was not on good terms with him, could not really go over there and ask “Did Bud get his credit card yet?” I do wonder how it turned out though.

      Thanks for stopping by. Your garden looks great BTW, very ambitious.

  3. Maybe there’s Facebook, Heaven Edition.

    This is kind of related to my post about charity address labels. The data is only as good as the person inputting or maintaining it. I remember my mom going through the same thing when my grandmother died. It was exhausting and sometimes ridiculous.

    Keep up your energy, Huffy.

    • Thanks Margaret. All I can do is laugh over most of it. I know a lot of it is from lists on one computer not talking to lists on another, and in the meantime, gives us something to laugh about.

  4. Computers do not know the meaning of dead, and they can’t take a hint either. Had to laugh out loud over the fb reply. I guess there’s facebook in heaven?

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. For a while, Facebook kept suggesting I become friends with a former co-worker who died a couple years ago. I guess we had some mutual friends, and when he died, no one knew how to or wanted to delete his account.

    • Thanks Todd. You’d think FB would have some kind of filter to notice when an account has not been used for awhile. Since it seems that they don’t I have a feeling our Facebook pages are going to live on long after we’re gone. Those checklists that funeral homes give you to remind you what things to cancel after someone dies, should include FB and email accounts.

  6. Sorry to hear about your mother, huffygirl. It’s a hard row to hoe, and you seem to be handling it well, better than I did anyhow.

    When my mom passed, I had to do all the things you have been doing, except she lived with me, so the mail issue was not so bad. The worst thing I had to deal with was Mom’s Co-op account. She was a member and therefore was entitled to the member corporate share income at the end of the year.

    I had forgotten about that and hadn’t mailed them the death certificate. When the cheque came at the end of the year, I mailed them the certificate and asked them to cancel the account. I thought that was the end of it. About two months later, I received a polite note from the Co-op stating that only the account member could cancel the account because there was still an unpaid balance owing to her.

    I answered back that that was fine, to issue a cheque for the amount and make it payable to the estate, and I would take care of it.

    Some time later, I got a polite letter back saying that they could only issue the cheque to the member and could I provide her current address. I guess somewhere along the way, they had lost the death certificate.

    I finally went in to a Co-op office, armed with the death certificate. I talked to someone there who asked my name (not the same last name as my mother’s by the way). She apologized but adamantly refused to issue the cheque to me. I produced the Probate of the Will appointing me as sole executor AND the death certificate. She didn’t know what to do…she gingerly took the two documents and promised me she would send all the information to head office. I had to be satisfied with that.

    Two months later, I got a letter from head office apologizing for the inconvenience (aha, I thought, now we’re getting somewhere), and if I could just obtain my mother’s signature on the release, they would be glad to send me the cheque (which btw was only for $5.41).

    I lost it.

    I stormed down to the local Co-op office and ranted for 15 minutes. I even cried a little in my rage, grief and frustration. The staff huddled in a frightened little group behind the counter. When I was finished, hot-cheeked and breathless, they stared at me for a moment.

    Then an older woman came up behind the group, passed them disdainfully and asked me what the matter was. Muttering oaths under my breath, I told her the story again. She got the file, found the copies of the death certificate and the Probate.

    “Well,” she said. “Everything seems to be in order. I’ll have Sara here issue a cheque to the Estate and we will close this account.”

    I stared at her in disbelief. After nearly a year of fighting with these people, it was as easy as that? Why had there been such trouble? I never did find out. Perhaps the staff didn’t know what to do with a deceased person.

    Anyhow, I never had any trouble again like that. Years afterwards, I did laugh and came up with all kinds of clever comebacks I could have used. Hindsight, eh?

    • Thanks. Wonderful story Sandra. It gives everything else perspective. It seems like you should have done something momentous with that check after all you went through to get it, but then what momentous thing can you do with $5.41? 🙂 You mom probably would have loved that story.

  7. Sorry to hear about the nuisance of the mail, but more of the loss of your mother. You are a true spirit, able to write those comebacks but I am sure there are days you don’t feel like being witty about it.

    Maybe if you go on her FB account, friend Mark Z, and then write crappy things on his wall he will cancel the account. Just trying to help.

    • I love it, how inventive. Never thought of going staight to the top of FB. “Hey Mark Z., why won’t you let my dead mother quit?” That might do it.

      Thanks for your encouraging words Techy!

  8. So sorry for your loss.

    I am in the same boat and have also had to deal with lots of inappropriate mail.

    The craziest one was:
    Dear ‘The LATE Ms K’,
    Your Direct Debit has been returned unpaid.
    Reason: Payer Deceased
    Please make arrangements to pay as soon as possible.

    We were so shocked we ended up laughing for hours.

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