Imagine receiving a new e-mail from an old friend that begins, "By the time you read this, I will have passed on."
It could happen, as a result of a new Internet service in the US called TimelessMail.com. Through the service, which costs $US12 to $24 annually, subscribers create and store e-mail messages containing their final adieu to friends and family. After a subscriber has bought the farm, his or her messages are forwarded to the intended recipients following a verification of Social Security Administration death records.
Robert Walker, TimelessMail.com's founder and CEO, got the idea after both his father and a close personal friend passed away unexpectedly.
Originally from Seattle, Walker, 40, now lives in Ohio, and worried that his friends in Seattle would never know if something happened to him. Figuring many others had the same concerns, Walker decided that e-mail is a practical way to notify far-flung loved ones of your passing.
"Sure, it's a jolt at first to receive an e-mail from someone who has passed away," Walker concedes. After the shock dissipates, however, Walker believes recipients are likely to cherish the departed's last words to them.