A byproduct of broadcasting our lives on social networking sites for nearly a decade, researchers are just now figuring out whether it does any good as a grief management tool. “Anywhere from 1.8 to 3 million Facebook users will die in 2011, likely transforming those posthumous profiles into digital epitaphs. With Facebook swelling to more than 750 million members as of June, dealing with death online—through both the profile pages of the deceased and dedicated memorial pages—has become standard behavior. Now, it’s almost as commonplace as sending condolences and attending funerals.”
What’s the Big Idea?
To what extent does grieving for a lost loved one online aid in the coping process? Kimberly Falcon, a researcher in clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, says: “In the advent of growing online populations who are also inevitably aging, it’s fair to say that grieving online is becoming a new and necessary death ritual.” Falcon says grieving online helps one to accept the reality of the loss, deal with the pain, readjust to the environment and reinvest in life, all while forging a new bond.