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.
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.