Facebook and the dead, what to do?

(This was originally written in 2011)

One of my friends died. Along with the obvious sadness, grief, anger and occasional bouts of not understanding, thanks to Facebook, it’s caused a few odd situations that I’m not 100% sure how to deal with.

Facebook has taken a strange roll in my life since I found out about the dead human. In fact it pretty much played the role of the late night foreboding phone call.

During my run of the mill Sunday stalking of peoples drunken weekends and complaints about going back to work on Monday was the message written by the dead humans mum  explaing that after 18 months of fighting Lukemia, pneumonia and other complications from surgery had got the better of him.

Its pretty safe to say there was large amount of devastation felt and then this horrible feeling of being disconnected. No one else was talking about this, but why not, this horrendous huge thing had happened surely every one in my feed and on twitter should be expressing grief and sadness. But they weren’t. Most of my friends didn’t know the dead human. In the past when some one I know has popped their clogs there has been hugging, crying and a shared experience. But when you learn this information from a computer screen it’s a little bit isolating.

Then comes the question of what do you do next?

I was expecting poetic Facebook status’ so surely I should go ahead and do this. But I didn’t want people to think I was looking for attention, I didn’t want to take the focus of the dead human and everything his family must be going through. But at the same time you want people to know you care. So what is the correct response? What are you meant to do?

Then came the event invite to his funeral, which is all well and good and a fantastic way to reach every one in a quick time. This again was created using the dead humans Facebook page which of course meant that in the attending section there was his profile thumbnail. I couldn’t help but laugh, it was so morbidly surreal, I would like to think that the dead human would have found it funny. But at the same time it’s not, he’s dead, gone, never to walk this earth again. Unfortunately I can’t make it to the funeral so do you click the ‘no’ button? It feels a little harsh, do you click ‘maybe’ leaving the family in catering limbo or do you be a bitch and ‘remove from events’ so you don’t have to worry about it?

Facebook has clearly been a fantastic place of support and comfort during this time for his friends and family. For the family to have so many loving comments on record in a way that could never have been done before must be of some sort of comfort (I am very much guessing here, I can’t even imagine the emotions his family are going through) and the use of Facebook has been in such a way that groups of people that want to celebrate the dead human and his life can do even though they may never have met one another.

So in conclusion, Facebook = awesome it also = social interaction oddities.

He will be missed by so so many people, he was a clever and talented individual that supported and infuriated me in ways he will never know. My heart goes out to his family and every one who has been affected by his passing and I can’t state how grateful I am to have known him.

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2 Responses to Facebook and the dead, what to do?

  1. Pingback: Prayer 2.0 | David Blackett

  2. Sue Jones says:

    I agree – it is a modern oddity but can also work out to be a good thing. Three years ago, one of my son’s closest friends was killed in a tragic accident and within a few days the awful grief and confusion found a tiny amount of relief. Her facebook status was changed to private (in case of hateful comments by randoms) but all of her many many friends began to leave messages of love and remembrance and of sympathy to her bereaved family. As time went on the messages have slowed but were (and still are) being left. Friends would remember her birthday and events like xmas and easter – just a few lines saying that they were still thinking of her. This has been a source of comfort for her family but of course, I’m sure that it wouldn’t work for everyone. Every now and then her friends leave random messages along the lines of “I’ve just been to……you would have loved it…..we thought about you” etc etc. and personally, I find this kind of beautiful.

    Sue xxx

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