Event Title

#RIP: Maintaining Bonds with the Deceased on Facebook

Faculty Mentor

Lisa Moyer, Ph.D.

College

College of Education

Department

Department of Counseling, Leadership, and Educational Studies

Location

West Center, Room 217

Start Date

21-4-2017 1:00 PM

Description

All humans will experience the loss of loved ones and accompanying grief. Though grief is natural and expected, it is a highly individualized process. “Effective grieving” is better enabled when people are able to accept the grief. Klass (2006) proposed that learning to live with intense sorrow following a loved one’s death may be a preferred model for coping with grief, instead of the prescriptions for “closure” that were once pervasive. In fact, as Pennington (2013) suggests, “rather than severing all ties, the bereaved [should] find ways to renegotiate and understand their relationship with the deceased.” Although thanatechnology studies initially researched the promise of home videos and computer-assisted instruction programs to help survivors process grief, this area of research has flourished with the growth of online connectivity. Social media platforms are uniquely equipped to afford users a metaphorical place to address the dead and share their feelings and experiences. However, there is little compelling empirical evidence to demonstrate that having a relationship with the deceased is a functional form of grieving. The current study examined how Facebook users managed their grief through social media, and how their use of Facebook affected the grieving process. The study used a mixed-methods research design with a non-randomized convenience sample of 162 individuals, 88% females, of average age 38.52 years (SD = 9.90). Results revealed that most participants found it helpful to communicate about their individualized grief on Facebook, by remembering and honoring special events, expressing emotions, and forming connections with others who knew the deceased and the deceased’s friends and family. These findings are beneficial for educators, counselors, healthcare personnel, and others who work directly with individuals and families. Understanding how Facebook can help individuals and communities to find meaning in a loved one’s death can assist professionals and paraprofessionals in treating and supporting those who are grieving.

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Apr 21st, 1:00 PM

#RIP: Maintaining Bonds with the Deceased on Facebook

West Center, Room 217

All humans will experience the loss of loved ones and accompanying grief. Though grief is natural and expected, it is a highly individualized process. “Effective grieving” is better enabled when people are able to accept the grief. Klass (2006) proposed that learning to live with intense sorrow following a loved one’s death may be a preferred model for coping with grief, instead of the prescriptions for “closure” that were once pervasive. In fact, as Pennington (2013) suggests, “rather than severing all ties, the bereaved [should] find ways to renegotiate and understand their relationship with the deceased.” Although thanatechnology studies initially researched the promise of home videos and computer-assisted instruction programs to help survivors process grief, this area of research has flourished with the growth of online connectivity. Social media platforms are uniquely equipped to afford users a metaphorical place to address the dead and share their feelings and experiences. However, there is little compelling empirical evidence to demonstrate that having a relationship with the deceased is a functional form of grieving. The current study examined how Facebook users managed their grief through social media, and how their use of Facebook affected the grieving process. The study used a mixed-methods research design with a non-randomized convenience sample of 162 individuals, 88% females, of average age 38.52 years (SD = 9.90). Results revealed that most participants found it helpful to communicate about their individualized grief on Facebook, by remembering and honoring special events, expressing emotions, and forming connections with others who knew the deceased and the deceased’s friends and family. These findings are beneficial for educators, counselors, healthcare personnel, and others who work directly with individuals and families. Understanding how Facebook can help individuals and communities to find meaning in a loved one’s death can assist professionals and paraprofessionals in treating and supporting those who are grieving.