Technology and Grief
A few decades ago, the only way to reach out after a loss was through face-to-face interaction and notices in the newspapers. A death notification via obituary, phone tree, or community organization (like a church) was the most common way to hear about a death. This meant that days or even weeks might have passed before you heard the news, and that your grief was a personal and private thing. The funeral was the only opportunity to meet with others who shared your loss and, once over, it might have been difficult to find a safe place to talk about your grief.
In our present age, everything happens much faster. You could hear of a death within hours of it occurring. Crowdfunding pleas often go out by the afternoon. You can start discussing your own personal feelings via a Twitter thread immediately. And in some cases, you might even follow the process of loss directly from the source—when the deceased publicly documented their journey on their own social media account.
This does not have to be a bad thing. Having a place to go when you are hurting—even a virtual space—can make a big difference in your personal grief experience. Although online discussions carry the risk of hurtful comments from anonymous sources, you might also find an outpouring of support that literally does not exist anyplace else. The key is to learn how to navigate these online spaces without losing yourself to the screen.
Sources of Online Grief Support
Online grief support is an amazing thing. Depending on how much of a public figure the deceased was (and how tech-savvy his or her family is), you may be able to find support from:
- Facebook Groups (these have the benefit of being privately run so you can remove anyone being hurtful)
- Forums (these tend to be situation-specific, such as suicide, cancer, the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse, etc.)
- Memorial Websites
- Funeral Home Obituary Pages
There are also many different grief apps, which provide everything from a place to digitally journal your loss to inspirational daily quotes and access to local mental health providers. These apps can be a great tool when you want easy access to support that you carry with you.
The important thing to remember is that although online support can be a great help when you are grieving, it should not be considered your complete support system. Face-to-face interactions and conversations are still an important part of the grief process, so use technology as a supplement rather relying on it exclusively.