Death ends a life, not a relationship.Mitch Albom
It is interesting to watch our considerations of death and the changes brought about by the influx of technology and social networks.
In earlier posts, I’ve written about my own use of social networks and technology to understand how and when celebrities die. I’ve been struck by the loss of the life of someone close to me.
My partner worked in retail for a number of years. She managed a store and as a result, became quite close to a number of the women that worked in her store, and served as assistant managers.
When we became pregnant with our first son, I was attending UConn for my doctoral work and she was working in a mall near the campus. I would often stop off at the store on the way home to visit and make sure she was fine. After our son was born, I would drive in to the store with him to see her…or pick him up there on the way home.
She became close to one of her colleagues in particular. She would greet me and hug me whenever we saw each other. She became close to my Wife even after they stopped working together. Through the use of social networks, they routinely shared, commented, and liked content on each other’s walls.
On one regular day, my partner called me and informed me that the friend and former colleague had passed. It was totally unexpected and as a result, we were unsure if it even occurred.
Slowly in drips and drabs friends posted their condolences on her Facebook wall. This was followed by others that were learning and questioning about the details. Finally a family member somehow obtained access to her Facebook account and posted a short notice that she indeed had passed.
Over the coming days and weeks, her Facebook wall became a memorial and celebration of her life. To this day her Facebook wall is still active as loved ones routinely carry on a dialogue with her after her passing. They share jokes, and music videos that she would have loved.
Just this past week we spent some time reminiscing about this close friend. We have several digital picture frames in our home that rotate and bring up memories. Many times it is a memory we’d rather forget. This week it pulled up photos of our friend holding our son or posing with my partner.
Digital spaces provide room to reminisce and remember.