Monday, September 27, 2010

Social Grieving

The recent passing of a well-loved theater friend has sparked a lot of thought and reflection for me.  Not just the usual 5 steps of grieving.  This is not a story about her or grieving for her.  Just the spark.  So, don't think this is in any way related.  Keep in mind, I'm a people watcher and enjoy taking an introspective look at social habits and behaviors.

In the past couple of years, Facebook has obviously become a phenomenon.  I mean, you can friend your parents.  That automatically makes it a world-wide phenomenon that probably isn't going away for a while.  Since Facebook has exploded, I've learned about the deaths of two who were, well, more than just Facebook friends.  No, this is not about learning about their passing in such an impersonal way.  Maybe another time, but this is not it.

Instead, I'd like to focus on how social media has influenced how we grieve.  In fact, I'd like to give props to Facebook for actually having a way to memorialize someone who has died.  Look it up.  Basically, they take the profile private so only confirmed friends can see it and still post in remembrance.  I guess it's a nice way for people who, due to distance or whathaveyou, can't... be there in person(?) to grieve...

And I guess the way I wrote that last sentence is perhaps a bit telling as to what I've observed and think.  Maybe not.  I'll explain...

I completely understand the need to express your memories and grieve for the person who died on their wall.  And please, this is not written to condemn anyone who grieves and remembers a person in such a way.  Perhaps this  is really just a comical observation to help me heal.

But, as I look over wall postings of these friends who died, I wonder who are they written for.  Are the deceased capable of checking their Facebook?  Most are postings are along the lines of, "Soandso, I love you and will never forget this one time," or, "I miss you everyday."  (Perfectly valid feelings and sentiments, by the way).

Do we really think the person will see it in the afterlife ethereal?  We must, right?  Well, if they are so capable of checking their Facebook from the other world, surely they are powerful enough to be sitting next to us when we post such memorials.  And, if they are sitting right next to me when I post such a memorial, well, shoot I might as well just tell them.  If they can read their Facebook, I'm sure they can hear my words or read my thoughts.

So, I guess Facebooking is becoming apart of the grieving process.  And well, selfishly, I'm not sure if I like that.  For every friend me and deceased have in common, I get to see one of these memorial posts.  And, again, I get posting them.  But, does that help me grieve?  I don't know... Maybe so.  I do my own grieving in my own way and it's my own personal process.  I guess it helps others to know they are not alone in the grieving process.

Which brings me to my real point.  Why can't we just tell people that we love them and let them know they are not alone when they are here?  Why is that such a difficult thing to do?

I am quite the guilty person when it comes to that.  So, I guess do as I say, not as I do?  Or how about I just tell or show or express or do something every time I see you so you know that I love you.  Then, you won't have to worry about checking your Facebook when you die.  I'm sure you've got way more important things to do in heaven.  Like playing the harp or ironing your linen robes...

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