Just this week, I received news that both my co-worker and my next door neighbor lost their fathers. They lived in different states. They were different ages. And a different grim reaper had visited them both.
But their losses, of course, were felt just as strongly by both their daughters. In this age of social media, both daughters took to Facebook to share their losses and memories. And, accordingly, friends and family members—both near and far-flung—were able to send their condolences virtually.
It is definitely a sign of our times—an online funeral register, as it were. But while naysayers (including some in the industry) may tout social media as the great “disconnector,” I have found it a great way to connect, especially in times of loss.
My mother died three years ago, and many of my close relatives live hours or even days away. Some were simply unable to attend her funeral. And while receiving phone calls and cards is comforting and always welcome, I was touched by the number of posts on my Facebook page from people expressing their sympathy.
In the case of a death, I think Facebook can, indeed, be a great “connector.” It has connected and reunited me with first cousins I haven’t spoken with in years (simply due to our geography). It has introduced me to their children I’ve never met. It’s also helped us all keep in touch in times of grief, when we all need each other a little more.
My gentle advice—to the doubters of social media out there—is to give such channels of communication a chance. Be prudent about what you say and do, but do use any venue or vehicle necessary to reach out and touch someone (interestingly a catchphrase once used about the telephone!) in a time of need.
Freelance writer/editor Sharon Verbeten has written about the funeral industry—in trade journals and online—for more than 20 years. She lives in Green Bay, Wis.