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Website offers a final goodbye on social media

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

We see it all the time on social media: a person passes away and friends and loved ones go to that person's Facebook page to post memories and condolences for the family. But what if the person who died, was the one leaving the messages?

"We use all these tools for so many things. Why not use it to carry out messages and requests and things when we're gone?" said David Stewart, who started a website for people to leave messages after they're gone.

It's called socialfarewell.com. It allows people to write final messages to friends and loved ones that are then sent out via email, Facebook and Twitter after a person dies. Stewart started the website about six months ago as way for folks to leave a lasting online legacy.

"Some may look at it as a means to let family members know where assets are," said Stewart. "…and others may use it as kind of spiritual goodbye."

"To get a really personal note that is to you. I think that would be wonderful for someone you want see again in this life," said Carol MacMillan.

MacMillan lost her husband a few years back. She keeps numerous items that remind her of him. She feels this digital memento would go a long way in helping in the grieving process.

"What is nice is that they would have the opportunity to say it, not just if they were terminally ill and they know they were going, but just to say something in general while you have your full faculties and feel well," said MacMillan.

Some counselors warn there could be some potential downsides to the site.

"One has to be careful with the potential, impersonal impact of this," said grief counselor Steve Sweatt.

Sweatt says it is best if people say goodbye in person. When that is not possible, when death happens unexpectedly, Sweatt feels Social Farewell could offer survivors something to hold on to."

"We find that survivors benefit from something called linking objects. That is anyway they can derive a sense of comfort and connections with their loved ones months, weeks, years beyond the death," said Sweatt. "This would be kind of a fail safe."

The website's creator says, so far, the response has been mostly positive. There is a fee for using the service.

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