Death, grief, and Virtual Connections

The Role of Social Media for Social Support and Memorialization

Authored by: Kathleen R. Gilbert

Handbook of the Sociology of Death, Grief, and Bereavement

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138201064
eBook ISBN: 9781315453859
Adobe ISBN:


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Online social media applications provide us with opportunities to connect across distance, to communicate without regard to time, forming, and maintaining relationships with others that were at one time unimaginable. As with any technological change, there is concern. Here, I consider these new communication technologies and their influence on grief and mourning. Will they replace traditional grief and mourning practices? Do they expand options? Do, for example, Facebook memorial pages complicate grief or do they somehow add something more? Debra Jackson and Kim Usher have suggested that social media “can foster social connectedness, and therefore, hopefully contribute to community healing and recovery from trauma” (2015, p. 94).

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