The internet has changed our lives so much. From the way we interact, to the way we learn, and even the way we shop. You can do ALMOST anything online, and now we’re beginning to see people grieve there as well.
I recently read an article that advocated for the return of the traditional act of “wearing black” when in mourning. While I don’t think the idea will quite catch on again, this sense of needing to be known in the public as someone in grief is a very important idea and one that social media is now meeting.
In just the last 3 months I’ve encountered friends & strangers grieving via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Blogs. A friend of mine shared pictures of her grandfather at the hospital surrounded by family and shared that it was going to be a tough couple of days. Her next post (several days later) was at his funeral and showed her grandmother receiving the American Flag in honor of his military service. Her photos were amazing in that they offered up to her online friends very private images of what she was experiencing. Her sharing also allowed many people to share their condolences, offer prayers, and words of comfort.
Another friend of mine recently lost his 5 year-old son to an illness. Within hours of the loss, this heart-torn father announced on Facebook what had happened and how much he loved his son in the most profound, beautiful, and meaningful posts I’ve ever read. A day or two later the uncle composed a beautiful blog recounting his fun times with his nephew, stories & memories. Needless to say, the responses to these were overwhelming and we got to gather as an online community with these two men and just mourn this little life taken far too soon. They recently put up a second post talking about how beautifully the funeral was, you can read it here.
There are now lots of Facebook pages available to mourning families that are intended as places to share how you are doing, what your story is, and commune with others experiencing similar loss. There are pages for grieving mothers and fathers, siblings in grief, families who have lost someone to suicide, and others like The Empty Chair that aren’t grief-specific but still wonderful places to share & be encouraged.
I recently came across a different post from a woman I’ve known for many years who posted the following:
“I was just thinking about her this morning! She was such a wonderful woman!”
“Right with you sister.”
This recognition, acknowledgement, and validation of her feelings was most certainly a comforting & valuable experience in her grief. And you know what, no one had to trouble her for her address to send her a card, no one failed to “say the right thing,” and most importantly, all the responses she received showed that she wasn’t alone in her thoughts or feelings.
When you see someone grieve online don’t be afraid to share, validate and encourage them. Make sure to check our guide out on things “not to say” if you’re a bit worried, but just know that even “Liking” someone’s status can mean the world to them and show them that there are others out there who care about & love them.