On Death and Facebook

I have to say, I am getting a little un-nerved by the number of facebook friends I have who have now died, and all have died very young, yet been some of the most incredible people I have had the pleasure to know.  It brings up a tricky situation.  It is hard enough to know that a person is no longer in your life, but what do you do about their facebook acount? Do you unfriend them, or do you continue to leave them messages?

I now have four facebook friends who died young, three from ‘rare’ cancers and one who died from a heart attack in his mid 20s.  Personally I think it is a comfort to have that contact still in place and also as a way of connecting with their other friends and family members on days when you are all remembering them, like their birthday or Christmas, and it is also nice to share funny stories or memories on their page, and perhaps facebook in that way helps with the grieving process and feeling connected to them.  But I dread to think how many ‘texas poka’ or other ridiculous requests or messages they have un-opened in their mail boxes and I wonder how devastated we will all feel if facebook suddenly deleted their page due to inactivity.  And another thing, who even has access to their facebook page? Parents? Friends?  I have never given my login details to anyone, so unless you were a hacker you wouldn’t be able to enter my account.  And worse still, imagine if you suddenly got a ‘message’ from the deceased person! ‘I saw this video of you and it was great’ kind of message, and you open it to find some kind of dodgy porn or computer virus!  That would really rub salt in the wound, no matter how much you know that they are dead.

I wonder if others have this experience at all? I’d love to know other’s experiences and views are on this.  Do you have ‘dead friends; on your facebook list and do you think it is unhealthy or healthy to maintain connections and leave them messages?

Rest in Peace Steve Plant

This week I lost two friends, one of whom was Steve Plant, father of 4 boys who I used to play in the East Dorset Scout Band with, and as a result spent every evening and weekend at either band practice or out on the road for carnivals, concerts, and we even played for the Queen once!  I hope that Steve’s boys: Dan, Adam, Luke, and Simon are doing OK, and their mum Grace too.  I’ve lost touch with them over the years, but have numerous happy memories of time spent with them, especially as my brother was pretty much a part of their family and spent more time there than anywhere else.  Steve died of pancreatic cancer this week at the age of 53 I think.

Steve and Ben were both really active members of the East Dorset Scout Band, so it is sad that it has lost two of its long term members.  I just came across this picture of Ben (in green with the bugle) when we played with other bands and walked down the Mall in London, it was a really hot day, and loads of people were fainting, but none of our guys!  I was a snare drum player so I was in the front row, which you can’t see here thank goodness! Luke Plant is the little guy in the green uniform with the cub scout hat. This was probably back in about 1993 I think?

The next photo is after my time, around 2000, but the bugler on the left is Ben and the bugler on the right is Steve Plant.

Rest in Peace Lincoln Hall

I was also saddened this week to hear that Lincoln Hall passed away after a battle with cancer.  Lincoln was left for dead on Everest, and later rescued by a friend of mine Dan who was leading a group on their own summit attempt.  Lincoln had already summited and was on his way down.  Dan and his team forfeited their own attempt ( a big deal when you consider how much money and small a window you have to reach your goal, and you have come almost to the top and might never have the opportunity again.  They don’t call it ‘summit fever’ for nothing!).  They put their lives at stake to rescue Lincoln, and thank goodness they did and all survived.  Everest is strewn with bodies, and it is said that for every ten people who make a summit attempt, one of them will die.  I guess that is why the news of Lincoln’s death is so much more poignent as he survived against the odds on Everest.  I can’t imagine how it must have been for his wife, first to get a phone call from Everest to say that he had died, and then to know he was alive, and then to go through it all again, but this time to cancer. Such amazing people.  Dan has written a fitting tribute to Lincoln here:

Lincoln Hall Tribute: Hello, this is Dan Mazur writing with a heavy heart on the recent passing of Lincoln Hall, one of Australia’s most celebrated mountain climbers and a respected author of mountaineering books and articles @ www.LincolnHallTribute.info

Mr. Hall died on 20 March 2012 at the age of 56 in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital after suffering from mesothelioma, a type of cancer allegedly resulting from his exposure to asbestos in childhood. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and two teenage sons, Dylan and Dorje. Our sincere condolences to his family & friends. Lincoln Hall was a great man.

Together with Myles Osborne of Portsmouth, England, Andrew Brash of Calgary, Canada, and Jangbu Sherpa of Nepal, I was involved in the 2006 Everest rescue of Lincoln Hall from just below the summit, where he had been left for dead after suffering cerebral oedema at 8600 metres / 28,200 feet. The team and I gave up our attempt on Everest at 7am on a beautiful, sunny, clear, windless day, and we were luckily able to assist in bringing him down the mountain. During this ordeal, I was deeply moved and inspired by Mr. Hall’s courage and desire to survive beyond what others had thought was a “hopeless case”. 2006 was a tough year for both climbing and rescues, due to the tragedy and controversy over the ‘non-rescue’ of a British climber named David Sharp, best summarized by Sir Edmund Hillary in a radio clip narrated by David Wallis, from Melbourne, Australia. @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_hklgSMaw4

It may seem unfair and cruel that Lincoln Hall survived this nearly insurmountable experience on Everest only to pass away 6 years later at a relatively young age. After getting to know him and his wife Barbara, I believe Lincoln fought for every extra day possible to spend with his family and friends, which seemed to be the whole world to him. I’ll be thinking of him when climbing Everest this May of 2012 and say a prayer for Lincoln when I reach ‘Mushroom Rock’ at 8600 metres / 28,200 feet, where we first met during his rescue. I welcome you to follow our Spring 2012 Everest Expedition at www.SummitClimbNews.com , where we have 7 Australian team members on the team.

Lincoln Hall was the first Director of the Australian Himalayan Foundation, and in memoriam to Mr. Hall, I wish to build a new school in remote Nepal during June, working together with the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development on our annualwww.RemoteNepalServiceTrek.org . If you or anyone you know would like to donate or become involved, please let me know. Thank you very much.

During the latter half of 2006, with his frostbitten fingers still wrapped in bandages, Lincoln Hall wrote a book called: Dead Lucky, Life After Death on Mount Everest. In the book, he credits his survival to a devotion to Tibetan Buddhism. In fact, Mr. Hall believed in the Tibetan Buddhist 8 stages of death, and that he went through two of the stages while perched overnight on Everest’s summit ridge with his jacket unzipped and fingers frozen at 8600 metres / 28,200 feet. In Tribute to Lincoln Hall’s Buddhist Spirit, I wish to construct a meditation center which will welcome visitors from all over the world to Nepal’s oldest Buddhist convent, and the closest to Mount Everest herself, the Deboche Nunnery, where 10 nuns pray in peaceful solitude and beauty beneath the shadow of mighty Everest. We visit and work on this sacred temple annually during our www.EverestServiceTrek.org . If you or anyone you know would like to donate or become involved, please let me know.

A while ago I think I shared a clip from a documentary made about their incredible Everest story, but I would today like to share with you another clip:

I truly feel honoured to have such people in my life as Ben, Claire, Lincoln, and Steve.  They have all left their mark on me in some way on our journeys together, so I guess for me, I like to have them as friends on facebook still and to draw inspiration from them when I am reminded of what they achieved and their attitudes, and through that it drives me to face my own mortality and to really make the most of life and not be afraid to undertake challenges no matter how big.  I know those thoughts will energise me, especially on my Pacific Ocean Row over 6 months and when I’m feeling cold, miserable, or excited.  Some people like to think in terms of ‘what would Theroux do’ but for me, in those times, I like to think what would Ben do, for example, and then I remember how much fun he was and how he overcame lots of difficulties in his life, especially as a young man with a pretty much unknown condition in those days called Tourettes Syndrome.  Ben was a great inspiration and he used a lot of humour to overcome a potentially very disabling condition and a life of medication which had numerous side effects.



About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
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