Facebook Grieving: Not Sure How I Feel About It

Have you noticed the phenomenon of people grieving on Facebook? It should come as no surprise, in so much as facebook is arguably an extension, or alternate electronic universe of real life. Although it isn’t. I am hardly one to knock how anyone else processes life or death, but I must admit I am a little perplexed sometimes by the things people post. We all get annoyed at the “I got bit by a mosquito yesterday!” declarations, the incessant “I have a cold!“or the insufferable bragging or promotion, but I’m talking about actual grieving an un-live person on the formerly alive person’s FB page. I’ve grieved in real life, admittedly before the ubiquity of Facebook, so I’m still trying to get my Facebook grieving sea-legs under me.Apparently Facebook will convert a decedent’s Facebook page to a memorial page if so requested. See, for example, Golden Girls’ Rue McClanahan’s Memorial FB Page. This is handy because it prevents all the automatic life events from said decedent from populating on their page or yours. In other words, it turns off the auto birthday announcement and such. That seems thoughtful, mostly, I guess. No creepy salutations from the grave. It also prevents the deceased user from getting new Friend requests. In other words, you have to friend live people, not dead ones. Pay attention, people: only friend the living.

Recently, an acquaintance died unexpectedly. Trying to piece together what happened, I checked out her facebook page. I didn’t find out what caused her untimely and unfortunate death, but I was struck by the number of her friends who left messages for her on her page that were written in such a way as to convey that they were communing with her in heaven. Or perhaps Samsara, Jannah, Olam Ha-Ba, or whatever the applicable concept of “heaven”. I understand these folks didn’t get a chance to say good-bye, but it still struck me as odd. I understand posting condolences for the bereaved, though the “like” button needs refinement. Nothing says awkward like someone posting “I’m so sorry for your loss!” with a thumbs-up like symbol.

Am I alone here? How do you feel about Facebook grieving?

3 thoughts on “Facebook Grieving: Not Sure How I Feel About It

  1. No you are not!

    I can’t decide if it’s a healthy way to grieve or not. I’m not sure what people are looking for when they make a post. Some are looking for sympathy and some are looking for pity. It’s a tough to figure out which one.

  2. I recently had a friend who died after a long illness. Because he was unmarried, no family except his fiancee, but has friends in the convention circuit and around the world, the FB page has been the way we have communicated and planned both the Shiva and the upcoming Irish Wake.
    It can be strange, but it works I guess.

  3. I love FB as a way to connect people, especially in times of need. What struck me as odd were the folks who left messages for the deceased person like she was going to read them from heaven. Maybe I’ll get to the Afterlife and God will be all, “Joke is on you! All you had to do was tell me what you wanted via FB and I totally would have granted your request!”

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