Guide To Google Drive

Google Drive Gave Me Space to Grieve

How to process the memories that live on our devices

Farahnaz Mohammed
Forge
Published in
3 min readOct 7, 2020

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Light blue filtered photo of woman upset sitting on the couch with Google Drive icons with cloud and sparkles in foreground.
Photo illustration; Image source: fizkes/Getty Images

This piece is part of How Google Drive Can Make Every Corner of Your Life Easier

If you’ve ever been in a product design meeting, you know that often, it’s impossible to predict all the ways a piece of technology will be used once it’s out in the world. Human experience is too variable.

I’d bet, for example, that Google’s product team didn’t have “grief management” as a use case on their whiteboard for Google Drive, but that’s exactly what I used it for.

I met Greg when I moved to Chicago for graduate school. We had an intense, whirlwind relationship that we both thought would be forever. Then, less than a year after we started seeing each other, he relapsed into an addiction. After several messy half-breakups, I cut off all contact but kept in touch with his family in the hopes that I’d hear from him again when he got clean. Instead, nine months later, I heard that Greg had died.

It was only after he was gone that I realized how deeply Greg’s presence was still embedded in my digital life. He was all over my computer and social media accounts: Photos. Chats. Emails. Articles I’d saved about addiction. Put together, these things formed not only a picture of Greg but a chronicle of an addiction swallowing a promising young man. They created an acutely painful story of loss.

I was reluctant to delete it all. When someone we love dies, we’re left to make sense of a cavernous space where they used to be. Those few megabytes were all I had left of him.

Leaving everything untouched didn’t feel right, either. The sorrow was always there, waiting, ready to spill itself out into the room whenever I opened my laptop. At the end of one particularly long workday, I was staring at my screen, searching, bleary-eyed, for a document I needed to edit. Instead, I stumbled on a photo of me and Greg, taken on a Chicago…

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