Event Title

Using Social Media to Express Disenfranchised Grief

Session Title

Inclusion and Community

Faculty Mentor

Lisa Moyer, Ph.D.

College

College of Education

Department

Department of Counseling, Leadership, and Educational Studies

Location

WEST 217

Start Date

12-4-2019 1:00 PM

Description

Thanatechnology refers to the use of technological resources to support individuals and families coping with death, grief, and life-threatening illnesses. Although initial thanatechnology studies focused on 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 such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are uniquely equipped to afford users a metaphorical place to grieve and share their feelings and experiences with others, particularly those coping with losses that are not typically recognized by society. This type of loss is called “disenfranchised” because it is a marginalized type of grief that most people do not acknowledge as real, like the loss of a pet, a miscarriage, or a divorce. Disenfranchised grief also includes loss due to a type of death that others are uncomfortable talking about, such as suicide or murder. The current study used interview methodology to collect stories from ten participants regarding how they used Facebook to help cope with disenfranchised loss. The main research question for the study was the following: How does Facebook help individuals cope with disenfranchised grief? The findings indicated that Facebook helps to validate disenfranchised grief, which in turn makes the bereaved feel better. Facebook also helps them to connect with others that have dealt with similar types of loss.

Previously Presented/Performed?

South Carolina Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, February 2018

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Apr 12th, 1:00 PM

Using Social Media to Express Disenfranchised Grief

WEST 217

Thanatechnology refers to the use of technological resources to support individuals and families coping with death, grief, and life-threatening illnesses. Although initial thanatechnology studies focused on 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 such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are uniquely equipped to afford users a metaphorical place to grieve and share their feelings and experiences with others, particularly those coping with losses that are not typically recognized by society. This type of loss is called “disenfranchised” because it is a marginalized type of grief that most people do not acknowledge as real, like the loss of a pet, a miscarriage, or a divorce. Disenfranchised grief also includes loss due to a type of death that others are uncomfortable talking about, such as suicide or murder. The current study used interview methodology to collect stories from ten participants regarding how they used Facebook to help cope with disenfranchised loss. The main research question for the study was the following: How does Facebook help individuals cope with disenfranchised grief? The findings indicated that Facebook helps to validate disenfranchised grief, which in turn makes the bereaved feel better. Facebook also helps them to connect with others that have dealt with similar types of loss.