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Grief and loss in social media; How Facebook and Twitter can help cope with serious loss



Charlotte-fox-grief-online I first stumbled on it when a friend posted a notice about her dog's death; a poignant, jarring aside in a flood of messages about cool restaurants and birthday greetings among my Facebook friends.

Then, I saw someone mention the anniversary of a loved one's death, drawing together a huge circle of support in minutes like guppies drawn to a floundering friend. And the recent death of a longtime staffer at the St. Petersburg Times, and the lovely way in which folks memorialized her memory online, only made me more aware of how you can discover grief and loss in new ways in our new media world.

So when I heard about a mother in Tarpon Springs who had written a frank, sorrowful obituary for her son -- who had committed suicide earlier this month after struggling with addiction -- I figured it was time to take a look at how we are bringing grief and loss into the social media world.

Online_grief_support Charlotte Fox's brave, specific obituary brought an outpouring from strangers who shared an awful characteristic -- they had all lost someone close to a similar circumstance.

The experience allowed Fox to hear from others going through what she in struggling with now -- a sense that life is forever changed by this loss, like losing a limb. The challenge: to somehow find hope in the face of such a debilitating change.

Fox hopes to educate others on the dangers of prescription drug addition and tell her story in hopes others will avoid her son's fate. And she hopes to find others who can answer some of the heart-rending questions she has about why her son made the choice he did.

My own pet theory: That we are just starting to hear stories about grief and online networks because the folks most likely to go through such losses are older and may not be aggressive about utilizing online resources.

Online counseling See my story in the St. Petersburg Times here.

Also, here's a wide range of online grief resources:


The Tampa area chapter of Bereaved Parents of the U.S.A.

The online support group, Parents of Suicides.

Nar-Anon, group for family members and friends of narcotics addicts, Florida chapter reachable at

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:05pm]


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