I thought I had prepared myself for my grandmother’s death, I mean…we had gotten those “get to the hospital quickly” calls so many times over the 5 year period since Grandpa had died. I had been mentally preparing myself for this day over several years with grandma’s dementia progressively getting worse. February 2013 was the last time we would rush to the hospital, this time it was pneumonia but she made it through….beat the odds. She was one tough cookie!
4 months later, while I was at a farewell party for a friend I took a quick glance at my phone and realized that I had missed several calls and texts from family members. I didn’t even have to listen to the voice mails to know that something was wrong. I suspected it was the common “get to the hospital quickly” message but I never anticipated that I would be notified of my grandmothers death via voice mail.
Yeap, today’s technology provided us with ways to say “Grandma died in her sleep” without the long silence or awkward pause waiting for the person on the other end of the line to respond. That is good right?
Many people thought it was terrible to hear the news via voice mail, but I quickly realized why. One family member said “Oh Angela, I was so afraid you would have found out via Facebook…you were so close to her, I know that would have been horrible”. Those voice mails and texts were from people wanted to protect me from what I would see on social media as other family members started to grieve via today’s communication tools. Could you imagine finding out a loved one died via Twitter or Facebook? Well sadly it happens.
4 stories share the power of death and social media:
- Distraught wife learns her missing husband, 61, was fatally hit by a car when she reads it online 5 days later
- Family learns of student’s death on Facebook
- NPR’s Scott Simon live-tweeted his mother’s death
- Algeria hostage’s family learns of his death on Facebook.
An entirely new set of issues with social media is playing a role in the grieving process. Would you be willing to get a photo of a loved one deceased in order to “virtually” properly identify the body? A New York Times article explores the power of death and social media for today’s generation “Online Generations Redefine Mourning“.