Grief And Loss: Losing An Online Friend




By Sarah Wayland in


Grief in online communities – What do you do when you lose a friend you’ve never met?

It’s odd how we socially construct ways to live our lives. The invisible to-do or how-to lists that allow the word ‘should’ to creep into our psyche. When I go and talk or teach groups of people about ideas of grieving in non-linear, fluid ways of riding the waves of loss there is often a collective sigh at being released from thinking there is one way to react to unexpected life events.

It’s virtually impossible to live our lives without some connection to others via the net. Whether we work from home, belong to internet forums or closed Facebook groups, write a blog, study online or we’re just someone who prefers to connect via Skype; when someone from within that community is lost the place for that grief can become muddled. In that muddle the feelings that come can be difficult to explain to others and then we wonder where is the space for our grief, our chance to put our hand up and say we miss someone and that they mattered. My friend Michelle asked me that question this morning – about ways to look after friends in online communities when a close friend passes away. How to honour the feelings that bubble up from under the surface…


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