How Social Media Can Help the Grieving

How-Social-Media-Can-Help-the-GrievingWe often keep definite separation between the formal and the informal, the decent and the faux pas, the social and the personal, but sometimes those can be more dotted lines than thick strikes.

In our modern age, there are few things more formal, serious, and even personal than deaths and funerals, and few things less so than social media. But do we really need to keep these things mutually exclusive? Does the constantly burgeoning prevalence of social media really lack a place in the grieving process?

Surely by this point Facebook and Twitter are no longer the tween-centered mediums for adolescent angst, sharing YouTube videos, and updating the world with our insignificant daily minutiae (“this is a pic of me in the morning”; “i had salad for lunch lol”). Grandparents, business professionals, and funeral directors themselves even boast profiles these days, so there’s certainly been a shift in the use and necessity of social media, if not yet the social perception.

So since there’s been a paradigm shift in social medias, there are a few ways that we can take steps to make them a platform for our grieving if we’re willing to step out into the (possibly) vast waters of our friends lists.

Profiles for the Deceased

This one can be quite tricky, as there is some possibility that it could rub people the wrong way or that it could be seen as a product of poor taste. Really this is best done if the deceased already had a profile to begin with and you can somehow manage the profile.

This can be helpful in several ways. First, the person likely had a reach of influence beyond what most of his/her friends knew about, and may have friends from other places that no one else is friends with. This can be a way to reach those people to let them know what happened.

These profiles can also turn into mediums for grief support. Loved ones can post memories and pictures to the profile, allowing all those who appreciated the person to reminisce and get comfort from knowing others felt the same way about him/her.

Fact Distribution

Sometimes deaths can come with shrouds of uncertainty, and this can be painful to those surviving the person if they aren’t true. By using social media, we now have a podium to announce the truth of ambiguous deaths, such as clearing up that a car accident wasn’t alcohol-induced or that a potentially horrifying incident was really milder than some think. This can be a great comfort to the families left behind, as well as a means of preserving the reputation of the deceased.

Simple Support

Of course the most obvious benefit is the possibility of support. In the past people who couldn’t afford airfare for a service or who maybe didn’t feel they knew the family of the deceased quite well enough to extend a gesture may have sat back, but with social media it’s easy for anyone from anywhere to send over photos or kind words to those who survived the person who died. People can also send out thanks via their profiles so they don’t have to spend tons of time responding individually during the complex times of stress and grief following the death. And unlike phone calls, messages are always there online, so particularly helpful words can always be revisited at will from practically anywhere in the world.

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