Mourning in the 21st Century

By: Kate Nypaver
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

When a loved one dies, we no longer wear black veils and black top hats for long periods of time in order to publicly display our grief and loss. But the tradition of public mourning is far from dead. In the 21st century, technology is our mourning device, specifically social media.

Facebook is largely the most popular means to make a public announcement. Family members announce the birth of a new baby, couples announce their engagement, and people announce a death like any other life event. You’ve probably seen a status update from your Facebook friend, announcing they’ve lost a loved one. It’s common to see “likes” on the post in the form of a crying emoji, or tons of comments from friends offering their condolences.

This is how we mourn. It’s our way of communicating to our friends and online acquaintances that we’ve suffered a loss, that we are grieving, and that we could use support (even though it’s not normally asked for). We seek quiet validation for our grief through the people who comment on and like the status. And that’s okay. It’s comforting to see the expressions of care and consideration through comments of sympathy, and serves as a warm reminder that we are loved.

Not to mention, social media has allowed us to share obituaries much easier than a newspaper these days. Young people and now many middle-aged people don’t seek out the obits in the Community section, because they’ll see it on Facebook. Most funeral homes will share the link to the obituary so family members can easily notify friends and relatives of the death and service information.

In 2019, even mourning has been adjusted to the digital age. For a society that shares just about everything on social media, it is no surprise that we convey our grief and mourning on the internet. Some feel it’s a huge advantage and a quick way to spread service information, while others yearn for the traditional word-of-mouth and newspaper clippings. What do you think?

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