Sometimes I think of someone I knew in the past whom I haven't been in touch for ages and I'd do a Google search on them, just to see how they're doing. It's always good to know when I found that they are doing well. They might not remember me anymore, but I'd be happy for them nonetheless. The last two of such searches I did, however, didn't bring up very pleasant results.
The first search I did was on a really nice girl I knew from when I was still "blogging" at Diaryland about 7 years ago. Her name was Jenny and she had a diary called Sheepish. This Flickr photoset of her Diaryland artwork came up among the search results, and in the description, the words "in memoriam" caught my eye. Further search revealed that she was murdered in May 2003.
Jenny's diary always had attractive designs. In fact, she was one of my earliest influences in web design. I always wanted to be able to design as well as she did. We read each other's diary, and whenever I sounded down, she'd write me an email to try to cheer me up. It saddens me to know that she was no longer around and that she had to die such a tragic death.
The second search I did was on a family friend, a well-known Indonesian artist/painter who, as far as I knew, lived in Yogyakarta, where the recent earthquake was. I just wanted to see if he was okay. This obituary turned up among the results. He already died two years ago, in December 2004. Apparently, his health declined after his gallery caught fire and he lost everything.
I remember visiting his gallery many, many years ago when I was a little girl with my parents and brothers. He was a very friendly man. My parents were really fond of him and I think the feeling was mutual because he gave them a few of his paintings for free. His gallery was obviously his pride and joy. The fire was a tragedy, as was his death.
Learning that someone you knew and liked had died is never easy. I hope they both rest in peace.