Grief on social media – how do we deal with grief in today’s modern society? Our sadness, sorrow, it all becomes so public and everything is frequently shared on social media. This includes deaths… Does that mean we have become more open with our feelings in general, or is it just a false way of showing you actually feel something..?
Recently I lost my friend Hillevi. I hadn’t seen her for years… Life came in between, as you can nicely put it when you loose touch with someone. Still, she was someone I liked, someone I admired and she inspired me. What made it worse that I was actually on my way to see her before I jumped on a flight to Mexico. Her home was in the US, but when all the shit went down at my previous work I withdrew from the world and contact with other human beings.
So I left the US without even contacting her. Just took off. Something I truly regret, and will regret for the rest of my life. You always believe you have all the time in the world and all of a sudden something happens – something unnecessary and tragic.
I got the message through Facebook!
Her family had written on her Facebook wall about her death. In just this same way I had received information about two other friend’s sudden deaths. These were also friends I hadn’t seen for many years, and even though I don’t count myself to their closest circle, but more of an acquaintance, it’s been somewhat shocking reading this so public.
I suppose it’s an easy way to expose your sadness to others, and to many at the same time…
Many friends continued during the following days to write on my friend’s Facebook page, I wrote too. It seemed like we all needed to get some words out there, “talk” about our feelings and validate our sadness, our regret. But we didn’t write to her family, we wrote to her.
Isn’t this just a little bit weird reaction?
When I understood she had left earth for this time my first impulse was to write something on her wall, but I had a change of heart and pondered:
“Why am I writing here? Is it for me or for everyone else to see? For other people to see I’m grieving the loss, that she actually meant something to me? Is it to confirm I’m sad she’s no longer with us? Or is it to prove something, to get attention á la 2000, move the attention to me?”
All of a sudden I felt uncomfortable, so I didn’t write anything.
I did not write at that time, but I did write a line later on when I felt I actually knew the reason why I was writing on my friend’s wall, although she was not with us in this world anymore, and without a doubt couldn’t read it. Now I believe in reincarnation, so I do believe that she, as well as all the others that have left us, are with us as loong as needed. Before we are reborn. That she is indeed aware of her family and friends and their grief I don’t doubt for a second.
But I don’t believe it’s possible for her to read stuff on social media…
However back on track – the writing on social media, I don’t know actually, in all honesty, why I even wrote on her wall. Pondering hard about it it feels kind of macabre to continue on writing for someone who is no longer with us in this life. Someone who has moved on. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I was one of those writing.
I’m just pondering what we think it will give us.
I was sitting there reading what other people were writing, looking at their photos, remembering her. I cried a bit, because it is all so sad. In some way, I felt it was nice to write “to her” because I didn’t really feel that she was gone as I did.
Many people are still writing “to” her and I tagged her in an Insta post the same day as her funeral. I wanted somehow to acknowledge the day, not “just” send flowers.
Is it maybe therapeutic?
Maybe it’s just as simple as it’s an act of therapy. Instead of visiting her grave you can turn to Facebook to write a line or two, getting your thoughts out of your mind. Feel the connection with other people who loved her? Or is it something more cynical, something more egocentrical?
When I was young I visited someone’s grave, and I could sit there for hours just rambling on, or be quiet. Although I hadn’t really known this person that well, not at all actually, when he died, he became in some ways my therapist (wow this is pure ego talk here!).
After his death we became closer than we actually had been while he was alive. Which wasn’t that hard at all (considering we hadn’t really known each other), but pondering closely this is such a typical INFJ-thing – to idolise someone, and create a fantasy image of them. Probably a teenager thing too…
Even though I never got any answers from down under, I found the answers within me.
If I might be so bold as to claim we probably all need to talk about stuff that makes us sad or upset. A need to be validated.
Another friend’s husband passed away a couple of years ago. She shut down his Facebook shortly after, because it gave her more pain to constantly be reminded of what they had done this day or the other day together. Memories that Facebook happily share and remind you of. They had a life together, a future, and when it was viciously ripped away it was too painful with all these constant reminders. I get that.
Their mutual friends did not get that. How could she be so mean and selfish?
I feel everyone needs to make this decision for themselves. I have chosen people to deal with my Facebook and other social media when I pass. Whatever they choose is fine by me, I won’t state anything in my last will 😉 and whoever is left standing need to do what feels right. I can guarantee you I won’t be hanging around in “the Light” getting all excited when someone shuts down my social media, nor if they decide to keep them going.
If there even are social media when I’m moving on…
These daily reminders you get – I can’t even imagine how horrible it must be in the midst of your pain to constantly be reminded of your loss when your person is constantly tagged here and there. Even how well intended I understand it can all be too much when it comes to family, your partner or really close friends. Well, maybe you’re not on social media in the midst of your grief… but still…
There might be those people finding this to be a comfort, it probably differs.
What did we de before?
How did we do it before? When we didn’t constantly feel the need to publicly declare our feelings or our grief every single minute? This constant need to get our feelings validated by people we hardly even know. We didn’t grieve any less, now did we?
Oh, yes, well we paid a visit to the cemetery, as mentioned above… 😉
The questions I’m pondering are really: is this making us moving closer or further apart? Does it make the grief shallow? Is Facebook truly the right medium to show compassion for a person/family who have lost someone so valuable?
Is it lack of respect to turn to a person’s Facebook to pay your respects? Or is it respectfull? Does it feel less intrusive to contact the grieving through Facebook than in person? Can you through this medium pay your respects without actually being intrusive?
Grief is for me something very private, and I don’t know if that’s the Swede talking or the introvert within, but I feel uncomfortable to speak even to my closest friends about how I actually feel, and my actual feelings. Well in that case, is my blog really the right forum for opening up like this?
But writing doesn’t seem to be a problem whatsoever…
What do you think? Have you lost someone close and shut their Facebook down? Or did you decide to keep it active? Have you chosen people to deal with your social media after you’re gone? Do you want your Facebook active when you’re no longer around, as a memory of you?
So many questions… Please leave a comment!