Friday, January 15, 2016

Social Media, Death and Mourning

We share our hopes, our dreams, our joys, and our disasters on social media - be it new jobs, long-distance moves, joyous births, long-awaited marriages, or the finality for us all - death. But is social media the right platform to use to share and express our grief?

Although technology has changed the way we mourn, that doesn’t mean it’s become trivialized, or that social media has made it any less meaningful. In fact, experts say that the internet offers a form of instant support that can comfort and sustain us through the heartaches of death and grief by letting us know we are not alone.

Unlike the Victorian Era when mourning had a prescribed time limit and manner of dress, today there are no set-in-stone rules. Social media can keep us connected to the world, but still allow us private time alone.

We sustain ourselves by sharing our grief with others, be it family, close friends, co-workers, or a social media group we belong to. While this may not have been the way your parents grieved, it still allows for that needed human connection.

On Facebook, the deceased's page may become a heart-felt memorial  where friends, on-line and off, can pay their respects by leaving thoughts, messages and photos. This sharing can act as a catalyst for pain and grieving.

Walter Cronkite Announcing President Kennedy's Death
Remember, it wasn’t that long ago when newspaper, radio and television obits informed us of a death. Isn’t the internet just another way in which we communicate with each other?

In the end, each of us will have to make our own decision concerning mourning on social media. 

I suppose you could look it as our 21st century way of acknowledging a death. And just like our Victorian ancestors who hung mourning wreaths on the doors and scattered straw on the street in front of the deceased’s home so that the sounds of life were muted for a time; social media now gives us a chance to share our loss and grief with others and be sustained by them, while still allowing us the privacy to bow our heads and mourn.

~ Joy


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