Monday, September 30, 2013

Facebook Relationship Statuses After Death

Blake "Was in a relationship with Briana Wagner."

Blake's Facebook profile has been in what they call a "memorialized state" since right after he passed away. It wasn't until recently, however, that I noticed that with this new state came a change in his relationship status. Since I spotted it, I've read that sentence probably 100 times. The insertion of that infuriating three letter word filled me with more anger than was justifiable, but felt like a stab in the heart nonetheless.


I checked my profile to see if it made the same switch. Nope. Mine still proudly displays "In a relationship with Blake," not was. I honestly don't mind my Facebook still saying "In a relationship" because I don't want anyone to think I'm single anyway. I'm not single. I'm not ready for anyone to consider me single either. The present tense for me feels very fitting and accurate.

I know it may seem ridiculous to analyze my relationship with Blake in terms of something as trivial as Facebook, but I think it creates an interesting parallel for how things actually are. By the very nature of death, Blake's relationship with me is in the past. He is no longer alive so he cannot currently be in a relationship with anyone. Even though it hurts to see "was" connected to his relationship with me, I do understand that it makes sense. As for me, a living, breathing person, I am able to still presently be in a relationship. Although the "with whom" part of the relationship is questionable to some people, I am still currently in a relationship regardless.

The crazy part is that the dynamic of the nebulous "with whom" is actually accounted for too. If I ask a friend who isn't Facebook friends with Blake to look at my relationship status, it only says "In a relationship." Period. Blake Norvell no longer exists to them. So although my relationship is still present tense, his name is not there anymore to anyone other than me and the people who were friends with him before he died. 

I don't know if the people at Facebook purposefully thought all of this through, but the accuracy of how the memorialized state of Blake's Facebook changed our relationship statuses is chilling. Not only does it reflect the duality of being both past and present tense for him and me, but it also demonstrates how different people outside of our relationship view it. While some people know him and know our connection remains, others see me as simply in a relationship, trying to hold on to something that isn't there anymore.

At least when I look at my status it says exactly how I feel. Briana Wagner is "In a relationship with Blake." That is what really matters.


  1. i had no idea facebook did that. i know they were struggling a few years ago with what to do with people's pages after they died but i never knew what changes (if any) they made. another electronic footprint we leave on this earth... how long will they last? for as long as the internet is in use? 100s of years? 1000s? or will we move to another platform that is more advanced than the internet? then what? will it all just disappear? sooo many questions people in 1860 didn't have to worry about.

    1. I actually thought about that too! As much as other people might find his profile unnecessary at this point, it means so much to me. It almost feels like a little piece of him is still alive whenever I see someone post a memory or wish him happy birthday. It helps me to know other people think about him and that he hasn't been forgotten. Thinking about it being deleted or not having it anymore makes me really upset. But maybe in time, whenever Facebook or the internet become obsolete, I won't need to have that place to constantly look at anymore.

  2. My son recently passed away from heroin. I memorialized his facebook too and they did the same with his girlfriend. I understand how you feel. I am looking into ways to save his new facebook that was put together as a memorial so it doesnt disappear someday.

    1. First of all, I am so sorry for you loss. I'm not going to pretend I know what you went through with his addiction, but I am very familiar with the feeling of having part of your heart missing now. I know nothing I can say will change that, so I'm just sending you my deepest condolences.

      Did you create a new Facebook page in addition to his original Facebook? Do you know if Facebook profiles in a memorial state eventually get deleted?

      Again I'm so sorry to hear about your son. If his girlfriend would benefit from talking to someone in a similar situation, I would love for you to pass on my blog or email address ( I have yet to meet a girl who is also coping with the loss of her boyfriend due to an overdose. I think it would be so wonderful for me to connect with her if she'd like.

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