solace through technology during grief
Do you have a voice message of someone you love and want to keep it permanently? Technology now exists to easily transfer a voice message that is easy and inexpensive. Yet stories persist of sudden losses of these treasured messages when carriers upgrade and irrevocably delete these.
After the car crash that killed 19-year-old Alexis on Mother’s Day, Lisa Moore would call her daughter’s cell phone and listen to her greeting. Sometimes she also left a message, telling her how much she loved her. In an AP article by Tom Coyne, she says, “I know it sounds crazy, but it was like we had a conversation and then I would be better.” Actually, many families speak of how much comfort they receive from still hearing the voice of one they love. In five years, Lisa’s family spent $1700 to keep their daughter’s cellphone service to preserve her voice. Then one day her daughter’s voice that provided solace was silenced. “I just relived this all over again, because this part of me was just ripped out again. It was gone….I’ll never hear her voice again.” Lisa discovered the deletion when she called the number after dreaming her daughter was alive in a hospital. The family stored her damaged phone in a safe, so they missed the carrier’s notification to customers that it would be moving voice mail users to a different platform.
A Sprint upgrade also cost Angela Rivera a greeting from her husband Major Eduardo Caraveo, one of 13 people killed during the Fort Hood shootings in Texas in 2009. She had paid to keep the phone to hear her husband’s voice and so her son, John Paul, who was 2 at the time of the shooting, could someday know his father’s voice. “Now he will never hear his dad’s voice.” Such added sorrow can be avoided and families don’t need to pay to keep phone service.
Companies now offer a service to transfer voice messages to permanent files for under $30. Verizon Wireless recommends CBW Productions and list this under Frequently Asked Questions about voicemail on their website. I found Voicemails Forever (www.voicemailsforever.com), and like CBW Productions, they can transfer messages to a CD or MP3 player. With simple instructions, you can do this yourself, or if you prefer, Voicemail Forever even offers a Voicemail Valet who will do this for you for $10 more at $29.99. Computer savvy users will also find instructions on CNET on how to use a free download called Audacity to make the transfer to one’s computer.
I remember how much hearing the sound of our 25-year-old daughter’s voice meant after she died in Bolivia when a bus plunged over a cliff. A few weeks after her death, my husband and I traveled 6000 miles with Aaron, her husband, to their home in Bañado de la Cruz. They were on a three-year volunteer assignment in a remote river valley, and we didn’t want him to be without family as he closed up their one room adobe home so filled with memories.
The evening we arrived, Aaron discovered a tape recording she planned to mail to us for our 30th wedding anniversary. “A creation from your creation,” she began. Her buoyant voice permeated the room as we listened closely to her tales of their first few weeks. It included stories of a recent work project hosting high school students from a Saskatchewan, Canada church who helped villagers build 11 dry latrines, a low-tech-high-sanitation toilet.
With high enthusiasm, she mentioned, “The families fed them and were incredibly generous. To see 20 North Americans working on latrines with the Bolivian families, building relationships and learning about another culture was wonderful. For a 15-year-old to realize not everyone has MTV can be life shaping.”
She ended with “I’m in awe of the beauty here. I love life and am thankful you gave it to me.” Hearing the joie de vivre in her voice seemed so natural, I felt that if I turned my heart I might see her walk through the front door.
As I read the stories of families distraught over the loss of voice messages, it makes me want to transfer this tape to something more permanent too! Tape recorders like she produced this on are also obsolete. Technology seems like a catch-22; we’re fortunate at the wondrous ways memories can now be kept alive. But we need to stay abreast of changes in a continually evolving world.
Ours happened when four friends woke us one beautiful May dawn to break the news that our 25-year-old married daughter Krista had died 7000 miles away while volunteering in Bolivia. Our hearts shattered, much like the shards of her bus that plunged over a mountain cliff.
Desperate. Determined. Unwaveringly confident. In 1896, a Norwegian immigrant named Helga Estby dares to cross 3500 miles of the American continent to win a $10,000 wager. On Foot. BOLD SPIRIT: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk across Victorian America introduces readers to this fascinating journey of an audacious act of courage and love of a mother trying to save a family farm.
“You absolutely do not want to miss this book!” ~Mitch Finley, Auntie’s Books
Purchase on Barnes & Noble
+ Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors On-line forum and website www.allianceofhope.org
+ American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) (Formerly Candlelighters Childhood Cancer) www.acco.org
+ Compassionate Friends www.compassionatefriends.org
+ First Candle: www.firstcandle.org Support for Stillborn and SIDS deaths
+ Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS) www.catholiccharities.net/loss
+ MISS Foundation (also in Spanish) www.missfoundation.org On-line support groups : Infant & toddler death and advocacy
+Parents of Murdered Children www.pomc.com
+ TAPS: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors: www.taps.org 1-800-959 3277 for survivors of military deaths