How people are using if i die.org

This website was originally designed to give people a way to leave behind some simple instructions to be followed in case of an unexpected catastrophe. However, the people using the website have found much more creative uses: they're using if i die.org for personal letters, deep dark secrets, pet care instructions, as an informal will, and like an electronic manila envelope for top-secret information.

Josh - simple, practical instructions

Hi. I'm the guy who built this website. The way I use it, however, is pretty mundane. I haven't stored any deeply personal emails or written down my life's regrets; instead I've written simple, practical notes to my family and closest friends. Because if something happened to me I wouldn't want my parents and close friends to left not knowing what I would have wanted. So for instance, in a note to my parents I've written down the password to my computer, so that they could get to my pictures and documents. Since they're my next of kin, I've also told them what to do with some of my stuff - for instance that no one should read my journals - they're private! Also, I told them how to get in touch with some friends I have in other countries, whom no one here is in touch with, and who might not otherwise find out what had happened. I wanted a way to take care of these little things, and so I built if i die.org.

Lily - a confidential manila envelope

Lily's the one who first referred to if i die.org as a manila envelope, like the scene in the movie where the good guy puts some very sensitive documents in a manila envelope and gives it to a reporter, or a close friend, with the instructions that they should open it if something bad happens. Before I built this website, Lily and I talked about giving each other manila envelopes, but in the end it seemed too morbid and really we were just too lazy. Envelopes take a long time, are hard to update, and are tempting to open. Doing it through this website makes everything much easier, faster, and safer.

Dave - letters to friends and family

This is my housemate Dave, with his girlfriend Leslie. They're very cute, and are close enough that Leslie would probably know how to handle most of Dave's affairs and loose ends. Also, Dave's a pretty open guy, and isn't plagued by the deep dark secrets that worry Sam, for instance. So for Dave, the main benefit of the site is a way to write some short, kind letters to friends and family. He inspired me to do the same thing too -- to jot down some final goodbyes so that the people who are important know they're important. I know, we shouldn't need a website to tell people they're special, but just in case I get hit by a bus after yelling at my Mom, this website can make sure that's not the last thing she hears.

Michelle - informal, electronic will and testament

This is my girlfriend Michelle. She hates this picture. She was one of the first people I talked to about the idea, and she latched onto the idea of being able to create a simple will in a few minutes, without the hassle of lawyers and paperwork. This makes sense, because Michelle is one of those people who can't throw anything away because everything is special and meaningful. But if something happened to her, her parents (who are her next of kin and would be legally in charge) wouldn't begin to know what to do with everything. if i die.org gives Michelle a way to tell her parents, without sounding crazy, that she would like her brother to get the shoebox of childhood trinkets, that Josh should get her teddy bear, and that Jamie should figure out what to do with all her clothes...

Alisa - a way to procrastinate?

Alisa likes to have contingency plans for every situation. She hides emergency cash around her house, notices where the nearest exits are in an airplane or a movie theater, and always knows who is walking behind her at any given moment. Maybe she's slightly paranoid, but that's probably why she likes this website -- it allows her to feel that she has a contingency plan for the unforseeable. So, she uses if i die.org to tell her brother to take care of her parents, her husband how to access her bank accounts, her former boss that she is not as great as she thinks she is, and on idle, ego-driven afternoons to plan the lettering on her tombstone. She also has an internet connection in class and lots of reasons to procrastinate while taking care of her very serious posthumous affairs.

Nick - how to take care of his dog

Here's nick, with an ugly mustache and his dog Middy. (Nick helped me out a lot with some of the doodles you see sprinkled over the website). Middy has a weak stomach, and Nick feeds him a weird concoction of kibble and crackers. So one thing that Nick uses if i die.org for is to leave behind some instructions for how to take care of his dog.

Sam - deep dark secrets

Sam's the guy behind octopart, and an old friend from college. He's an expert in network security and privacy, and has been giving me advice on how to make sure that ifidie.org is completely secure. His take on the site is that it works as a lockbox for some of the unspoken words that never got said, but which he wouldn't want to die without saying. Nothing severe like "I slept with your best friend," but just a way to say some of the stuff that, for whatever reason, are a little too hard to say in person.


These are a few of the stories I've heard about. If you've got an interesting one, let me know!

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