Grieving with Social Media

How social media has helped me cope with grief. I thought it important to record while working through some of the emotions and processes. Perhaps this can help folks understand why public expressions of grief in social media are useful for coping.

1. Social Media (SM) allows communication with multiple people who I know care and are interested without having to tell/speak the same story each time to every individual. This saves emotional energy while allowing people to stay informed.

2. Social media provides distance. I can check in when I want to, and respond when I want to, without feeling pressured to respond. In face-to-face, if someone asks an awkward or bumpy question, it's more difficult to stall or ignore. If you do so, people may think you're rude when, instead, you're just not ready to deal with them on that topic. And this can complicate things. So, instead, some of these conversations can take place virtually and allow some time/distance to comment back.

3. With SM I'm able to rapidly share, and often receive, how I'm feeling or handling things with multiple folks at once. While a virtual "thinking of you" is not the same as a hug, in many ways it accomplishes the same goal: assurance of others' care and reaffirming that their concerned and that they are invested in our well being.

4. Having a different site or location, online or Facebook, allows me to situate or place a lot of the emotional work. While the emotions obviously swell into other parts of my life, I can focus my expression of it--outside of family at least--in one area. That allows me to do my work, do my job, and to have some sense (perhaps delusional) that the emotions are compartmentalized in a productive manner. In other words, I don't fall apart randomly during the day because I know I can do that kind of expression or work elsewhere--whenever I want.

5. Semi-gated social networks, like Facebook, strike me as the most useful because I'm not sharing the emotions with the whole world, like Twitter has the potential to do. As such, I can avoid being trolled by folks who have nothing better to do than inflict pain for its own sake.