Family,  Grief & Loss

Living On Through Social Media

I was scrolling through my Facebook friend list looking for someone, when I realized that I have four Facebook friends that are deceased yet their accounts are still active. Dan, my late husband, has one of those active accounts.

I can’t bring myself to close his account. We talked about it, a discussion triggered by a fascinating article in Reader’s Digest (one guy lost his wife in childbirth and literally closed her account as soon as he got home from the hospital!) I could never do that, but everyone is different. I asked Dan, and he said yes, he did want me to close his account if something happened to him.

That’s always how we phrased it, “if something happened to him,” even though we knew deep down that if cancer had its insidious way, something would happen to him. It helped.

Something did happen to him, yet his Facebook account continues on. He didn’t give me a timeframe though. I can’t bear to take it down, I just can’t.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Several times a year I will deactivate it for a while just to take a break, even though I’m not on it that much. I don’t like the way it tries to worm its way into our lives in ever more subtle and insidious ways. But yet it remains the best way in this day and age to keep in touch with people, including my own family! It works so well because most everyone is on it.

When something pops up in my news feed relating to one of my deceased friends, I feel a sense of connection with him or her, a moment of remembrance. I take comfort in that, even though his or her precious life on this earth was cut too short. When I post something on Dan’s Facebook wall or when I tag him, I feel not loss but connection, as though he can feel my sentiment from beyond.

Dan’s Facebook account and the accounts of my deceased friends are slices of their big beautiful glorious real lives. Their very presence remains online, even though they are physically gone. When life seems to be so fleeting, Facebook and social media represents a way to keep our dearest friends, relatives, loved ones alive, in a sense.

Yeah, yeah, there is this memorial feature Facebook offers, but really, that reminds me that my friends are gone. Just that person’s profile, not some sort of “in memory of” attached to it, is way more appealing to me. Why turn a social media account, an interactive aspect of someone’s life which was set up and populated by a real person, into an obituary of sorts?

Nothing can remove that pain and grief for those of us that remain when someone we love dies. But when the time comes to make that decision about their loved ones’ social media accounts, I know that the people who hold that responsibility are probably thinking twice, or more, about deleting.

I know I do.

Previously published on My Edmonds News

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