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Monday, September 21, 2020

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: RL DEATHS IMPACT IN SL – JOSH (THOMAS1 BELLIC) REPORTING



Benjamin Franklin once said “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” While there is no evidence that Old Ben was speaking of the Virtual World, they still apply. Let’s take a look at the first of these two certainties:  Death. 

In Real Life, death is often proceeded by illness, degrading physical acuity…failing mobility…perhaps a period of hospice care.  The signs of impending death are obvious to all...and when it finally arrives, it comes as a real surprise to no one.  But SecondLife is different.  We can be at death’s door in RL, and yet…to look at our avi…we are as vibrant as the day we incorporated the last update. Here, life may go unchanged for weeks, months, or even years.  We continue to visit the same sims, run with the same crowd.  No telltale pallor to the skin…no slowing of movement.  We can look every bit as alive and vibrant as we want to be….until…we can’t. One who is very ill in RL may share that knowledge with closest SL friends, but not always.  And the rest of us are left wondering.  What about those who just disappear? Did they simply leave SL? Did they change avis and have jumpstarted their SL with an alt? Or have they simply… passed away?

In this article we will explore the reality of Death and the impact in a Virtual world.



Josh(Thomas1 Bellic) JB:    Have you known friends or others in SL who died in RL?

Bandor Tyrell:  Kimiko Beverly, my RL half-sister, founder of Maui Swingers Resort died of cancer several years back. She had been sick in RL for a long time, but concealed it from most of her friends in SL.

merry Felwitch: I have lost many friends in SL.  Just last week I lost another.  We were very close. There is a club in SL called The Willows where they honor those we have lost.  I had a friend who lived in my state, and we met from time to time in RL.  My friend  did not want anyone to know she was ill.  She passed as she lived – happily. I attended two wakes for her – one in SL and one in RL.  We all met for her wake where I served as the DJ,  playing  songs I knew she loved and we all had a chance to talk about her.

Melissa (melissa212212):  My friend and I worked together hostessing   She died about 8 years ago. The owner of the place called for a meeting and told us.  We all were very sad because she was very friendly and with a sparkling personality.  I am not aware if anyone held a memorial service for her in SL or not.  Sometimes we can make great friends in SL but we never have the chance to be part of their RL. Nobody who can tell us if they are ok, if they are sick or if they have died, they just disappear for us.

Anonymous:  We once had a renter who wanted a parcel for a friend in a hospital.  Her friend loved gardening so she made the parcel very pretty with lots of colorful flowers, trees, butterflies etc.  When it was ready, she taught her friend how to use SL. She told me her friend loved it so much and she's been visiting the SL garden anytime she can to see the flowers. It made both of them really happy, I was genuinely happy too. It felt like I have been part of their friendship and happiness.




JB:  How did you normally learn of the death?

Faleen Renard:  For the most part, I will be contacted and informed of a death directly by that person's SL or RL partner - or by one of their closest friends. Otherwise, because I have a number of DJs working with me and I also network with other venue owners, sometimes the news of a loss will come to me via one of these colleagues.

Anonymous:  We have land rental business so we get a lot of news like that.  Usually people who are close friends here in SL will contact us about the death.  Sometimes another person will log in on an avie to inform us about the passing of the RL owner.




JB:  How did his/her loss affect you or others?

Faleen Renard - As in RL, learning of a death in SL can be expected (as in the case of long-term illness) or it can be a terrible shock (when it's a sudden passing or when no one was aware the person was ill in any way). We hurt, we cry, we grieve the loss of our SL friends with sincere RL emotion. I have had people be unable to return to my venue for a period of time (or at all) because the memories and emotions are overwhelming to them and it takes time for them to work through their loss.

Chi-Yun Kwon (kwonchiyun):  It was a devastating loss... all of her friends were stunned, shocked.. I myself was a crying mess for several days. I missed logging in and knew I'd never again see her daily greetings. it made a huge impact on us all.

Bandor Tirrell:  Kimiko’s RL passing had a major impact on the lives of many people in SL. Now, 6 years after her death, I hardly go a week without someone mentioning her. Her dream has been realized, and her legacy lives on in Maui Swingers Resort.  She made me believe in myself and my talents.




JB:  Was there any SL recognition of the individual’s death – memorial service, wake, placard, special event, etc.?

Faleen Renard:  When the first death occurred within The Willows group, in January 2014, I decided to lay a wreath for her at the venue's landing area, under the willow tree. I was then invited to attend a memorial at her SL home, with her closest friends, and it was held in voice chat. I came away very affected by the profound sense of loss people had expressed and decided to leave the wreath permanently as a sign of love and respect. With each successive passing, I added another wreath and now that area has become a permanent memorial. It is very important to me that every member of The Willows family is remembered by name.

Chi-yon kwon:  We, her friends, all banded together, to have a special memorial service for her... a friend logged in her avatar to place in a casket that was purchased, so we could have a service and say goodbye to her, as we saw her. I'm tearing up as I write this...

Keda (mompea.texan): Years ago a very close friend of mine passed away.  Many people still keep his group in their profile.  Everyone who does, does so as a nod of respect to the Master.  Thank you for keeping his memory alive.  It was nine years ago we lost him and it made me smile to see how many still have kept this group.  Dancing on always.

Bandor Tyrell:  When Kimiko passed, we held a large "funeral" for her. At the time, we were running Game of Thrones Roleplay, so we had a huge, epic funeral with her body carried to a large altar-like pyre, where her body was burned to ash. It was open to the public and had a great turnout. It was an amazing memorial and all her friends and lovers came to say goodbye.  When we reopened Maui Swingers Resort, we did it in her honor. For a time, we even put up a memorial plinth at the entrance with her avi atop it like a statue. After that, periodically, we would log in Kimiko's avatar to make special cameo appearances at the sim and even creating a monument to her, by turning her avatar into a SmartBot/Greeter for the resort, like a living statue.

ღ Ƙαƴ ღ  (kay1373): We have a special place for those who want to visit and remember the loved ones we lost. It is private for our club members. I have lost a few really good friends.  Two close ones were Randy77 and ahoot.  WE are a bit lost, like a hole you can’t fill... Both where amazing men and their love and laughter will forever be missed.  WE had a special formal event with a memorial set up to leave condolences and we have a memorial area to visit anytime outside the formal area




JB:  Anything else you would like to add?

Faleen Renard - Virtual friends, family, relationships...indeed, our Second Lives... are real and can be significantly impacted by RL death. In my experience, it can be a comfort and may provide much-needed closure when there is an established way for someone (a friend, a family member...) to reach out from RL to SL and provide confirmation. Being informed of a RL death is difficult and sad but is infinitely better than not knowing and being left to search and question and wonder when someone simply never returns to SL.

Chi-Yun Kwon People often forget the reality of Second Life... while most see only pixels and avatars, they tend to overlook the fact that there's real people here. People we connect with on a far more personal level than they realize.  Only once they're gone do we realize just how much we miss that social interaction… and their true friendship. People often forget the reality of Second Life.

Sevant Anatra: I lost my Father recently. Having people you are close to inworld works as a virtual support system, especially during a chaotic time like this pandemic. For some people, SL can be a refuge from the heartbreak. I'm still processing it... It still feels like his death was just yesterday.   So many things in such a short time. so many emotions.  I think SL can be helpful with all the things that can be done here, like the support of good friends and loved ones.




There you have it, Folks.  ‘Nuff said.  Aloha
JB


Reactions:

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful read. Losing members of our SL family..does have an impact, we all hurt like RL. I myself have lost special ones in my SL, those feelings never change. Sometimes, exchanging RL info..ie: Skype, E-mail, Phone, or even text (I have my 'In Case Of Emergency' list ready) can be a possibility. To alot of us...this is our special place to live, love, laugh, and sometimes ....lose. Avatars are not supposed to die..but RL, it's a part of life. Cherish those you love in SL.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Ayko. People are people...and when a special connection is lost...we all hurt...regardless of the basis of that connection.

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