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Grief online

Grief online

The growing adoption of social media affects even the way we deal with death, asserts an article in the NY Times.  

The article examines how a generation, raised online, has defined rituals of mourning for themselves, staking out places on the Internet to build community around grief and loss.   These sites serve not just to build community, but to answer questions that haven’t really been asked before.  

One such place is the website Modern Loss:

Modern Loss is a repository of essays, resources and advice that the founders try to edit so that it doesn’t sound glib, overly religious or trite. For instance, you’ll never hear, “At least they are in a better place.” (“Our least favorite line ever,” Ms. Soffer said.) The website also examines decidedly 21st century topics like what to do when Gmail keeps suggesting someone who has died as a contact, a topic that Esther D. Kustanowitz, the founder of the blog My Urban Kvetch, explored in a post called “Deleting My Mother.” Befitting the target audience, it is not overly earnest. “Stay tuned for upcoming Modern Loss events in real life,” the site’s “about us” page says. “Because misery loves company, and nachos. And margaritas.”

The whole article is here

How have you seen mourning change, or have you?


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David O'Rourke

A common thread I saw in the article and commments was that people needed a way to grieve the loss of someone close to them, and couldn’t find good ways to do that, so they invented ways. As more and more people are not affiliated with an organized religious community or tradition, especially so for the Millenials, new ways to help people process and express grief are being developed.

Also, as more and more people form relationships that are either partially or wholly in the virtual space and social media space, it seems natural to me that people will express and process grief in those ways. A while back a fellow member of a group I am involved with in a virtual space died. His family had a funeral service for him in his home parish, but we also organized a memorial service for him in the virtual space that allowed his friends who lived all over the planet a way to gather and remember him and to process our grief and sense of loss. We modeled the service on the funeral service in the BCP (the deceased was an Episcoplian), but obviously did not have a committal of the body, and we were clear that this was for the real person, and not his online persona.

The church has a lot of experience in supporting people in death and families and friends in processing loss. I would like to think that we can offer something in this new arena as well.

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