Online Mourning and the Unexpected Refuge of Facebook

Two weeks ago, a dear friend passed away. In the first days after hearing of his death, Facebook was the hardest place to look, yet the one place I needed to look.

A few hours after receiving the news, I wrote something and shared it as a Facebook note. I posted scanned photos from college—precious moments of youth, debauchery, and experiences I had never shared publicly—from nearly 15 years ago: onto his profile, our friends’ profiles, and my timeline. I sat in front of my computer, clicking on photos people tagged of him: images that conjured memories, that stunned and confused me, that made me feel grateful for knowing him, that devastated me because I realized I didn’t know the man he had become.

Alone, I sobbed. Yet I sobbed with Facebook open—his life revealed and exposed in bits on my screen, his friends spilling tears on his profile. I sobbed at home, by myself, but also with everyone else.

I had never given in to the community of Facebook until that moment. For the first time, its communal space had comforted me.

* * * * *

downtown los angeles

In 2001, near the end of our years in Los Angeles, an unexpected turn took my dear friend to the middle of Ohio. Aside from a single spontaneous meeting in Chicago sometime between then and now, I lost touch with him after he left California. We talked on the phone a few times—attempts at reconnecting that he initiated, not me. (And I love him for that, among many other things.) He was now married, had two young sons, and built a new network of friends.

Once our digital iterations found each other on MySpace, and later on Facebook, our paths had diverged so much that, despite the online reconnection and knowledge that he was right there, he wasn’t really there, just as much as I wasn’t really there to him. To see the life he had built, laid out on his profile, was at once comforting and alienating: What a beautiful life he had created. But how unfortunate that I was no longer a part of it, given that we used to be so close.

And that was that. He was part of my Facebook network, his avatar among all the others. And in that communal, timeless space, I assumed he would always be there.

* * * * *

At some point, if it hasn’t already happened, you will interact with a deceased friend on Facebook for the first time. I once stumbled upon a Facebook profile of a friend of a friend who had died, glanced at the stream of “RIP” comments, and quickly left the page. I felt uncomfortable, as if I’d walked into a funeral parlor during her wake. Up until my friend’s passing, a huge part of me had viewed collective mourning on Facebook, and the transformation of a profile into a kind of tombstone, to be inappropriate and in poor taste—especially when messages for and about the deceased spilled into my news feed.

I feel ashamed for thinking this.


I admit I’m the anal-retentive friend on Facebook who rolls her eyes at things like the sharing of sonograms to the check-ins of friends at bars and airports; or who has been known to unsubscribe from people whose updates are filled with misspellings and LOLs; or who clicks “Unfollow Post” when she doesn’t want to read a back-and-forth of Too Much Information, especially between friends of friends she doesn’t even know.

I like my Facebook (and general online) experience to be tidy, uncluttered, and set up just the way I want it. And recently, I articulated this need to control my digital experience and compiled postmortem instructions for the loved ones I will leave behind.

I think about death a lot, but it has been a largely private process. So I don’t really know how to write or talk about death, and even though I wrote my first attempt on the subject last month, I feel alienated from the person who wrote it.

Because I was so methodical. And so cold.

* * * * *

After Whitney Houston died, I read about the ephemeral nature of collective online mourning. I sensed that “social speed of grief” in my Twitter stream: a surge of memorial tweets that faded in a few days. I’m not surprised by our swift, desensitized communal reaction to celebrity death, but it does bother me.

Whether I’m observing our collective response to the death of a famous person, or watching friends mourn someone in my Facebook feed, I realize etiquette on dealing with death and dying on social media is not in place.

But can we instruct people how to mourn?

May I be allowed to grieve in the one space left that my friend and I had in common?

After finding comfort in my friend’s profile in these first weeks after his death, I feel I have no right to judge someone else’s grieving process on Facebook. If I happened to pass through a public place where others were mourning—a church, a cemetery—I would comfort them, or let them cry, or look away, or excuse myself. I would not ask them to stop remembering, or to stop crying.

And so, should our (inter)actions be any different online?

I don’t think there’s a “right” answer to this, and I also don’t know how I personally want to approach this. In the physical world, I don’t stumble upon groups of mourners; I visit a mortuary or cemetery for a reason, and I know what to expect once I’m there. But Facebook is a tangled space of the living and the dead. Today, I scrolled down my list of friends and saw the thumbnail of my friend who just died among the thumbnails of my other friends. We don’t have “specially demarcated places” of rest on Facebook, which philosopher Patrick Stokes points out: “What we have now is not so much like an online graveyard or cemetery; instead we just have these dead people among us.”

Even if I wanted to look away or excuse myself—or if I wanted to forget—I don’t think I would be able to.

* * * * *

The memorialized Facebook profile: it’s a version of a tombstone, but far from stone, and so far from inert. It may seem heavy like stone—weighed down by loss—but it’s alive in the most peculiar way. Last fall, on a Maryland Morning show on death and social media, Cyborgology editor PJ Rey said that dealing with death online may make grieving easier: we can bring the memorial into our home and mourn in a safe place, at our own pace. But while I can “visit” this tombstone privately, any time I want and for as long as I want, it is certainly not mine: It is a place where my friend’s loved ones, scattered all over the world in Africa, Europe, and the US, can meet. It is an ever-changing digital record of our shared weight, the residue of his relationships with each of us, and our collective memory of him.


People interact on his profile in different ways: some talk to him as if he’s still at his computer, and others write messages that face the sky. Here, I feel the friction of inertness and activity—what Piergiorgio Degli Esposti calls a “constant interaction between the digital footprints of the deceased and the people that commemorate its memory.”

We’re carrying on, our friend still among us, sustained by us.

Grieving and healing together is rather beautiful. But online, it’s not that easy. I know some people are uncomfortable with the idea of a memorialized profile—that navigating a space shared with the deceased is creepy. So, as Rey notes, we also have a right to forget. But how do you forget on Facebook? Do you “unfriend” the deceased, which may lessen the number of times you’re reminded of the person online?

Or, is that click meaningless? Would it erase the pain, the loss, or the memory?

* * * * *

I assumed he would always be there.

That’s the eerie thing about Facebook: its ability to keep a mass of people in your periphery. And despite the shock and grief, the gathering we had to celebrate him, and the tears that fall on some days, when I open up Facebook it’s as if he’s still here. We continue to tag photos of him and write messages to him, and as long as his profile is online I will see his face.

It is strange. It is surreal. But right now, that presence comforts me.

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Senior editor at Longreads / Automattic

50 thoughts on “Online Mourning and the Unexpected Refuge of Facebook

  1. Very well written!! I have also experienced this same type of grieving and processing about a friend who had passed. Actually, that’s how I found out. However, in light of the tragedy, I met people who are just as awesome as she was. Love this!!! Thank you!!!

  2. I had a similar, very uncomfortable reaction when LinkedIn sent a note about someone’s birthday had passed. I know this type of thing happens often and surely to others, but it left me feeling sick in some way — and a similar feeling when it took far too long for us to get someone’s name off a D-list at work after she’d died, and people complained about seeing her name there among the living. It’s a multi-faceted topic that makes it so interesting, how we choose to separate the living from the dead. And couple that with online “(inter)actions” where it feels like we’ve got nylon stockings over our faces, it’s all just very odd and new.
    When I lived in France in the late 90s I was thinking a lot about death, reading Castaneda and his very comfortable, uplifting attitude towards it, and I walked the same route every day alongside an old, stone wall. It took me several weeks before I realized what was on the other side of that wall, an old cemetery. And hence, we live among the dead all the time. I like that.

  3. What a beautiful post. I’ve not dealt with this personally and probably tended more toward where you were before this happened. Thank you for sharing your feelings on this. It gives me a different perspective. A more gracious view.

  4. “But Facebook is a tangled space of the living and the dead.”

    This has opened my eyes to a lot that I’ve never really considered. These virtual footprints that we leave are beautifully terrifying.

    Someone I knew from high school had died of a heroin overdose. On his Facebook wall were many posts condemning him (I went to a Catholic high school). His wall essentially turned into this huge religious battleground that his family and true friends had to endure. It was infuriating. Yet, there are no rules. It’s almost as if mourning is the only time we’re excused from the social eye.

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    Thanks for the beauty.


    1. Thanks for reading this older post of mine, and for sharing your own story. “It’s almost as if mourning is the only time we’re excused from the social eye” — very well put.

  5. This was so thoughtful and well written. I recently experienced the power of FB to provide a gathering place for mourning friends and family. It was also used to set up a fund in the memory of our friend and to help far flung folks know how to help and/or get to one of the memorial services. I saw that FB provided a way for people to grieve and take comfort from one another. I haven’t checked back in a while and this makes me wonder, what now? What happens to that face and all those people touched by the person who owned it? I’m guessing that there will be another loss when the page is taken down.

  6. Recently a friend of mine passed. I had woke up in the middle of the night worried about something, nothing, but couldn’t sleep. I opened Facebook, as you do on a sleepless early morning at 3:30am. It was then that his posted that S had passed. Funny, there were a lot of us up. And the posts came flooding in. I sat there for 2 hours reading, remembering. And I must admit, when I come in from a long run, I have to send Coach a message about it.

    I too am frustrated by those who share too much. I want to sit and have coffee with you and discuss life, I don’t want to read about its intimate details on Facebook. A friend dealing with mental illness seemed to be groping for comfort, she put it all out there, but how does she want me to respond to that? Anything left in the comments sounds trite or unloving. “Cheer up. It will get better” “you are such a strong woman, hang in there.”

    I will leave it at that. Thanks for this thoughtful analysis of our lives connected and disconnected by the digital world.

  7. Sometimes I’m too cynical for my own good. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of another viewpoint. I didn’t understand the continued posting on a deceased friend’s wall.
    It’s hard to eulogize someone in 140 characters appropriately. And status updating about someone’s passing feels empty and trivial. But we all grieve differently and cope differently. When you mentioned unfriending the deceased. That’s when it hit home. I could never do that. I suddenly realized how important it would be for me to keep that online profile after death.
    This post was painful and beautiful. I’m sorry for your loss.

    1. Aw, thanks for the kind comment. I, too, didn’t understand some people’s actions, reactions, and methods of mourning online until I personally went through the motions of it. I appreciate your thoughts here.

  8. What a candid, deeply-felt piece – thankyou so much for your honesty.

    I recently lost a member of my extended family in very sudden, unpleasant circumstances. The effect on the whole family has been utterly devastating (young, good-looking, successful, recently married, young baby girl…) Reaching out to his siblings via facebook just feels too insipid a condolence.

    The facebook phenomenon is complicated when it comes to death: in the past people had a cemetery, a city of the dead, or even a day of the dead in which they could remember their lost loved ones and feel reconnected to them. Now we are so separate, always linking together via these invisible, intangible connections, that even a death seems just as surreal as a crazy girl’s youtube vid of herself singing about stalking her would-be boyfriend. We don’t connect on a human level, so death doesn’t seem real. Even the bodies get cleaned and cremated and disposed of in such a sterile way, by complete strangers.

    I wonder how we can really appreciate life while death is such a distant fantasy. My last post was about nursing dying sheep – not completely off-topic, but ‘scuse the plug…I’d love to hear what you thought. You have a wonderful, heartfelt blog – bravo!

    1. “Now we are so separate, always linking together via these invisible, intangible connections…” Really like this line.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts — and yes, reaching out via Facebook (or email and text, too) feels odd and inappropriate much of the time. I’ll take a peek at your post when I have a moment. Thanks!

  9. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend.

    I’m a new reader here, but I’ve been sifting through your posts this morning as though through a pile of jewels. You have such a fine way of crafting your writing; I have to admit that I’m envious.

    In response to the topic at hand, I think mourning is one of those heavy topics that’s either very “in” or very “out” on social media, depending on who you ask. I don’t mean to say it’s trendy (or even that it’s not), but that people feel strongly about its presence – either positively or negatively. I think the same goes for things like political and religious opinions.

    The thing is, our tangible social spaces include mourning; they include politics and religion, etc. As social media evolves to directly reflect our everyday social spaces, I think we need to grow to accept the presence of all these things and more on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Yes, there are fuzzy boundaries now and the full book on SoMe etiquette is yet to be published… but I think we’ll get the hang of it one day.

    1. First off, apologies for taking 8 months to respond — I just happened to revisit this post and saw this is in the comments. And earlier today, I saw a headline from a tech site that read: “Death in social media is *so* in right now.”

      Thought to mention it here — I guess now the internet marketing powers-that-be think the topic is trendy 🙂

  10. Hi Cheri,

    Thanks for bringing your intelligence and sensibility to this topic. I’m sorry for your loss — and am glad to hear that going back and rereading your early thoughts has been helpful for you. I feel the same way about my “grief writing”.

    A dear friend of mine died a year and a half ago. Ours was a 100% (what’s the saying? IRL? “In real life” connection) — I even teased him shortly before his death, “I WILL NEVER BE YOUR FACEBOOK FRIEND!” He died in another country; I was devastated and alone — disconnected from everyone else who mourned him, except via Facebook… Thankfully his family set up a memorial page as a place for his friends to “gather”. In that way, I connected with people who held me above water for months. It was a tremendous resource. Honestly, I don’t know how I would have coped without the support it gave me.

    It’s odd when his profile photo pops up and FB says, “You may know …”. Some days it makes me laugh, other days I cry … always, always, I’m happy to see his name. So grateful I got to have some time with him.

    1. “Some days it makes me laugh, other days I cry … always, always, I’m happy to see his name.” Oh, I know what you mean. I feel exactly the same. Thanks for sharing your experience here. Facebook is funny like that — I hate it, I’m annoyed with it…and yet in rare times it has been just what we need.

      Thanks for visiting.

  11. Cheri: this was a really amazing post. I haven’t had anyone close (or even Facebook close) to me pass on, so this was something that really made me think and prepare for. I smiled at the thought of rolling ones’ eyes towards sonogram pics and check-ins, because I do the same thing. It made the post come alive for me. You are a really great writer…

    1. This comment means a lot to me. It’s been several months since I wrote this (and since my friend passed away), but I reread the post after I saw your comment and I’m happy I was able to write all of it down as it was still so fresh. My friend’s avatar pops up in my Facebook food every now and then, and while still jarring, I’m fortunate for these reminders. I generally can’t stand Facebook, so I’m always surprised when it comforts me in this way.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. Before social media became part of our everyday lives I found it difficult to know how to handle the e-mail addresses of friends I had lost. To delete them from my address book feels akin to deleting them from my life. Even though they had physically left this earth, they are still part of my past. As time has passed for some of them I find that I am grateful that I did not remove them from my addresses. Each time I see their names appear on the list, I remember wonderful times together. As long as the facebook pages appear for our friends we can go back to them and remember the good times too. Indirectly we can touch them in our own special way.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It’s weird — it’s been almost a few months since I wrote this post, and my friend’s name (or a tagged photo) has popped up in my FB feed, and it’s not as upsetting as I thought. Jarring for a moment, yes, but the reminder is nice. It’s positive. It’s odd and unexpected, but I’ll take it.

  13. I’m sorry for your loss.

    Years ago, I lost a friend who also had a Facebook profile, and I agree that it’s jarring to get reminders that I should write on his Facebook Wall again or send him a message. I wanted to yell, “He’s dead, you Facebook a******s!”, but who would’ve heard me?

    I chose to keep his profile on my friend list because I want to remember the person he was when he was alive. And you’re right—there’s no right or wrong way or mourning or grieving. Everyone has to do it in his or her own way.

    1. Agreed. Just today, someone tagged my friend in a photo, so his name popped up in my feed. It’s not as jarring as it was before — in fact, I welcome the reminder.

      Thanks for the note 🙂

  14. This post is an incredible testament to the power social media and web 2.0 is having in our daily lives. I think both you and I went through the same process of consideration with Facebook and Twitter, because years ago I would have also found this kind of online mourning practice to be awful, too impersonal and in poor taste. Why not bother to call? Can’t you just see the family in person and be decent enough to offer your condolences in a civil, respectful manner?

    But then again, these sites are becoming social instruments, tools of communication not unlike our body language, code/written word or speech. The use of internet and access to it has become so widespread that it’s creating some kind of convergence in the way we interact. It’s certainly making distances smaller and erasing a lot of borders.

    The random LOL posts, boring YouTube links and attention seeking pictures still annoy me.

    1. Joe — thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree — these tools are changing the way we interact, communicate, deal with things, and go about our daily lives. I love exploring these kinds of topics.

  15. I’m sorry for your loss. I think to unfriend the deceased or not depends on one’s temperament and perspective on the past. And whatever the individual mercurial grieving process might decree.

    I wonder what’s it’s like when it’s not just a remaining Facebook page and photos but years of someone’s potentially very personal Youtube vlogs and response videos and comments back and forth and recorded Skype interactions freezing people in animated moments of their lives. That can be good and bad, as you’ve noted. The past can usher us from shadow and penumbra. The beam of its flashlight dances, entices, or through our eyes it blares and bogs.

    I read recently that even though we perceive time as moving forward, physics suggests that past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. I’ve also read that neural firing for memories of doing something is about the same as when doing it. Is living in the past categorically different from living in the present when the past still breathes and sneezes and coughs and tosses its tresses over its shoulders?

    On a different topic (though metaphorically related, being the end of a writing project), I just read Jhumpa Lahiri’s piece “My Life’s Sentences” (, and it seemed to have the feel of your writing and perhaps your feelings toward it, e.g.:

    “As a book or story nears completion, I grow acutely, obsessively conscious of each sentence in the text. They enter into the blood. They seem to replace it, for a while. When something is in proofs I sit in solitary confinement with them. Each is confronted, inspected, turned inside out. Each is sentenced, literally, to be part of the text, or not. Such close scrutiny can lead to blindness. At times — and these times terrify — they cease to make sense. When a book is finally out of my hands I feel bereft. It is the absence of all those sentences that had circulated through me for a period of my life. A complex root system, extracted.”

    1. Oh — I love that you’ve mentioned that recent Lahiri piece! I’d read it and really loved every part of it — so elegant and beautifully said. I especially love this line: “Constructing a sentence is the equivalent of taking a Polaroid snapshot: pressing the button, and watching something emerge.” I think of that wonderful process of simultaneous creation and reflection, which — interestingly — kind of reminds me of what you said about how the past, present, and future exist simultaneously.

      This is especially obvious on Facebook, and specifically (and eerily) on a memorialized profile.

      Thanks so much for your comments. They provoke thought.

      1. I love how a chance choice of words can beacon and beckon to an assonance or rhythm or image that’s completely unpredictable–the butterfly effect of the flitting mind.

        (Cheri) “I think of that wonderful process of simultaneous creation and reflection…”

        Reflection is also a creation. Every time we recall something we reconstruct it again and again and new associations can be formed from possibly unrelated past and present thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Your literal reflection in the mirror has distortions, not even of how you look now but of how you looked nanoseconds earlier.

        We constantly re-create not only the significance of our pasts but our pasts themselves, even when we’re trying to be veracious. And we’ll do so probably only slightly less with blogs and vlogs to remind us of what we did or thought at one time.

  16. I perhaps made a mistake by listening to “Dust in the Wind” while reading your post. That was a sad coincidence but it made me realize that one big truth: No matter how hard we try to make death dissappear, it somehow makes its presence felt by us by of course deriving itself from this very hopeless effort.

    It was a pleasure reading this post. I simply thank you.

    P.s.: I suppose it’s Seneca who actually defines death with a very cruel and yet undeniable sense by saying: ““You will not die because you are ill, but because you are alive”

    1. Ah. Thank you for sharing that Seneca quote. I don’t think it’s cruel. Just tells it like it is…and puts things in perspective.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading this.

  17. Cheri, I have not faced precisely this, but feel readier for it with this post. And I have my own counterpart. I still have an email a friend sent me years ago, possibly pre-Facebook or at least its ubiquity, telling me her cancer had returned. Then she died. I keep the message. It’s just electronic, but it was what she typed, her words, and feels as substantial to me as if it were written on paper instead of being mere electronic signals that one day I’ll lose. There is something very real about a drifting Facebook page, or even the memorial version, I imagine, for those left behind. He has not vanished without a trace, but IS gone, just as we will be, and I think that’s the natural function of any such monument, to remind us of that uncomfortable truth.

    1. “I think that’s the natural function of any such monument, to remind us of that uncomfortable truth.” Yes — digital or not. Thanks for sharing a bit of your own experience.

  18. I love your post, I can relate to grieving online and the post-mortum profile. A year ago I lost a friend, bacterial meningitis, took her in 48 hrs… young, recently married, just graduated/received a PhD in Education her whole life ahead of her. Those 48 hours she was feeling sick, then unconsience, in a coma… fighting for her life… the messages of good health that poured into her FB page were undescribable. When the news hit we all remembered…

    Facebook continues to be an outlet for her husband and all her friends to stay connected, to remember her and thank her for the moments she shared with us. Where we reconvene on the anniversary of her death, her birthday… it’s our way of coming to terms with our loss.

    In the last 13 months I’ve lost a few friends and family members, mourning those loved ones in this new technological/social media age and mourning those family members the old fashion way… praying, getting together and remembering, not letting go of those last moments together but then we go home. It’s different, you can’t go back to that moment one cousin described and read it again, or see the picture an aunt shared. It’s different… you feel that loss then, that vacancy, the empty spot the person has left behind.

    I’m sorry for your loss…

    1. I’m touched by people sharing their personal experiences, here and in private messages. Yes — “it’s different,” a new way of mourning via Facebook feed: perhaps forced as one friend said, in a way that constantly brings us back into the moment, mixed with the past. Some may say that’s an unhealthy thing — that we are wired to forget — but I don’t know… as ieatmypigeon commented above, this type of sharing in the wake of someone’s death is, somehow, different. Personally, I and some of my friends notice it’s been rather helpful.

      Thanks for the note.

  19. Very touching post, Cheri – I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. More and more, Facebook becomes an extension of actual life; the same annoyances and positive things exist there as exist in the “real” world. I’ve always been irritated by the oversharing of pain – people who complain about their exes, people who chronicle the progression of their hemorrhoids – but death is, somehow, different.

    A dear family friend passed away one and a half years ago, and I still wish him a happy birthday on his page, as well as tell him I miss him on the anniversary of his death. I’m the only one who does so, and even though it’s ridiculous for me to get het up over it, it annoys me.

    1. “I’ve always been irritated by the oversharing of pain…but death is, somehow, different.” Thanks for this. Well said, and I feel the same.

  20. My gut reaction (though I admit I’ve not given much deep thought to this) is that this is healthy; or at least, nothing to be concerned about (for now–who knows how things will pan out?).

    The departed have always remained among us, in memories, associations, photographs, and so on. Facebook simply ‘physicalises’ – or at least displays – those memories and associations now. (And also, perhaps, allows us to participate in some way in them; they aren’t static any more?)

    In the same way as you can’t control when a memory – maybe painful, maybe bitter-sweet – of a dead loved one will surface in your mind, you can’t control when a similar reminder will surface in your timeline. (And you can deal with it in the same way, whether that be ignoring/shutting out, engaging/embracing, whatever.) Likewise, we can choose to go visit a collection of photographs or the profile of a loved one in the same way as we could pull out old photo albums or visit a grave.

    “I assumed he would always be there.” In some ways, he always will be.

    1. Having so many options online (blocking, curating, filtering, deleting…) feeds my desire to control. But you’re right — I can’t really control when a memory or a photo of a loved one surfaces, online or off. Or, perhaps I shouldn’t.

  21. A few years ago, I had a friend who set up a facebook account shortly before being diagnosed with a brain tumor that impacted his vision and coordination. He rarely used facebook. It was jarring to see the occasional FB suggestion that I recommend he update his profile with a photo, or to wish him a happy birthday. While these notices, months later, brought to mind my lost friend, it was creepy and I eventually unfriended his FB profile. I imagined him laughing: “Go ahead. I’m dead! And I didn’t use it anyway!”

    Recently, when a relative of mine died, I thought about unfriending her immediately, but I did see condolences on her wall, remarks that I knew meant a lot to her sisters and, in turn, gave me some comfort. I couldn’t bear to unfriend her, to remove her from my list of “family”. It seemed as odd as the feeling that someone from the family was missing at her funeral and then realizing that it was her. A few weeks after her death, I hid her from my news feed, but I wonder if FB will remind me of her birthday next Fall, shortly after the anniversary of her death. It may be a marker for me, just like a particular intersection in my town where I remember one of the last conversations I had with my father before he died. I haven’t avoided that intersection from over 15 years as I did in the first months following my father’s death. I now embrace the times when I’m stopped there by the lowered railroad crossing rails and I think of that snippet of conversation with my dad. Sometimes it is good to remember, and eventually it happens without tears.

    1. Oh, this is so sweet. I especially like your anecdote about the intersection in your town that reminds you of your father. Thank you for sharing this, and your other experiences with Facebook, too. From private messages I’ve gotten so far, it seems a good amount are struggling with how to deal with a lost friend/loved one online — and it comforts me to know that we’re all figuring/feeling it out in our own ways.

  22. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I must say, I haven’t had any close friend (Facebook or otherwise) pass away yet, so I can’t really relate to that.

    But I do feel something about celebrity deaths. Maybe some people are genuinely mourning, but a large number are just jumping in on the bandwagon. It’s not unique to social media; you see it a funerals when relatives who never bothered to visit the deceased when they were really sick in the hospital suddenly declare things like “Oh you meant so much to me” and “Your time was too short.”

    Maybe you can’t instruct people how to mourn, but you should still be allowed to feel resentment against fake-mourners, online and offline.

    1. Ah, interesting. I do sometimes sense the “jumping on the bandwagon” when it comes to mourning — perhaps it’s fake, or maybe that’s too strong a word. Some reactions definitely feel more shallow than others.

      Thanks for the note, and I appreciate you continuing to visit my blog 🙂

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