The Sideshow

Emails from dead man’s account helping family and friends find closure

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

When Jack Froese, 32, died of a heart arrhythmia in June 2011, he left behind a number of grieving friends and family members. But the BBC reports that several mysterious posthumous emails from Froese's account have brought some happiness and closure to those who were closest to him.

Last November, five months after Froese's death, his childhood best friend Tim Art received an email from Froese's account.

"One night in November, I was sitting on my couch, going through my emails on my phone and it popped up, 'sender: Jack Froese.' I turned ghost white when I read it," Hart told the BBC. "It was very quick and short but to a point that only Jack and I could relate on."

The email had the subject heading, "I'm Watching." While the text of the message itself read, "Did you hear me? I'm at your house. Clean your f***ing attic!!!"

Hart says that shortly before Froese's death, the two had a private conversation in Hart's attic, during which Froese teased him over the attic's messy state. "Just he and I up there. That's it," Hart said.

Froese's cousin Jimmy McGraw also claims to have received a posthumous email from Froese, warning him about an ankle injury that occurred after his cousin's death.

"I'd like to say Jack sent it, just because I look at it as he's gone, but he's still trying to connect with me. Trying to tell me to move along, to feel better," McGraw said.

For now, the source of the emails remains a mystery. But that's OK with Hart, who says that even if the emails are coming from a cruel prankster who has hacked Froese's account, he doesn't mind. "If somebody's joking around, I don't care because I take it whatever way I want," he said.

What's interesting and unique about this case is that the emails all had a personal touch. There have been several reported cases of emails sent from a deceased person's account, but those usually can be easily traced back to spam accounts that have accessed the deceased person's information.

Facebook has had somewhat similar problems for several years, with the social networking site sending automated notifications encouraging users to "reconnect" with the accounts of users who have died. Under normal circumstance, the feature is meant to help connect users who travel in similar social circles. In an 2010 New York Times story, Facebook said it was actively addressing how best to handle accounts belonging to users who have died.

And there are even options for those who would intentionally like to send emails from beyond the grave. The website Dead Man's Switch, lets you write email drafts that will be sent to a group of preselected recipients after your death. The site explains exactly how they're able to know when to send the emails:

"The emails are sent at certain intervals. By default, the switch will email you 30, 45, and 52 days after you last showed signs of life. If you don't respond to any of those emails, all your messages will be sent 60 days after your last check-in."

And if you're simply looking for advice on preparing for your Web-based afterlife, the site Digital Beyond offers ongoing tips about preparing your online identity for after your death.

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