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Old 09.07.2011, 00:38
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Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

This is not aimed at anyone in particular at all. But am I alone in observing the ways in which we seem to have grieved as a virtual community this past week? This isn’t about what happened, that’s not up for debate, but how come we reacted as we did?

It’s not as though we haven’t experienced death of family members, friends or loved ones before. It’s a given that we’ll have to adapt to each loss, because the person that has passed is the last one to to really be affected by their departure. We mourn, we grieve and then we maybe convince ourselves that things will never be the same. But we adapt after we grieve because there’s no other option, the choices are to stay in a permanent sad twilight that winds up nowhere.

I found myself in tears a couple of times last weekend when I read about Begga’s passing. Although I had only met her a few times and never spoke in depth, the Facebook connection seemed to make not only her, but a new level of “friends”, some kind of soap opera characters that played out their lives and worlds in a parallel state to my own life, interspersing daily trivial observations with highlights and (less frequently recorded) lows. So, like most here, I didn’t really know Begga at all. And yet the community spirit seemed to shine brighter than ever before. Gone were the accusations, the snide remarks and it was almost as though everyone was on the same emotional rollercoaster for a few days at least.

What is it about the virtual world when it interjects into the real world, when Avatars expose the real people, hidden to most for so long? People die every day, no clichés required, it’s a normal human cycle. But John Doe in Boise, Idaho living on his own with no friends may pass without anyone knowing, but if you’re linked into the virtual community and socialize you create a network that grieves together in a combined sense of unity. Why did I feel like I did? I can’t answer the question because I don’t know what the inputs were which created the effect, but I felt a loss which I simply can’t explain. Even ten years ago, very few of us would have known what had happened as quickly as we actually did, let alone had the opportunity to peer into someone’s personal life after they had passed and left heartfelt messages of love and sadness across their virtual past. No flowers required when you can go straight to the source.

And as we get to meet more and more new people across the globe, more “virtual friends” are we creating emotional time bombs that unleash their charge when things are less than pleasant or palatable, or if they pass way before their time? Can we cope with caring and liking so many humans all at once? Ignorance could be bliss, but the chances of avoiding news (good and bad) becomes less likely as we play out our modern lives. As our population becomes networked and borders no longer play any rôle in how we form friendships, are we emotionally equipped to cope?

Thanks for reading.
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Old 09.07.2011, 00:50
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

My opinion is that since we are stuck here in Switzerland away from our families, we need some friends in our lives. Many dont even speak the local language so the forum is just a means of socialising even if its virtual. And talking to people even online makes you feel close to them even if you havent met them in real life. You are in the same situation anyway so you already have something in common.

Thats what happened i think. A person has gone. Many people knew her offline and they had the usual reaction to those things, and those who knew her online only were just as shocked and upset.

Whether we like it or not, this forum is a part of our lives in Switzerland. If it wasnt, we wouldnt be in here so often. And when a sad event happens in our lives we get confort from other people who experience the same thing whether online or offline. We support each other because we feel like we know each other even if we have never met.
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Old 09.07.2011, 01:01
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

The notes, hugs and little comments I recieved after my mom's passing 8 months ago, on my facebookwall, hyves and via twitter felt just as warm and genuine as did the cards I recieved via regular mail. In the past 7 years years, living abroard I made a lot of online friends. Some I have met, some I haven't, not every connection is strong but I still consider them friends.

Some my think it is unpersonal but I like that virtual shoulder to crie on and I am doing my best to be their virtual shoulder if needed as well....
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Old 09.07.2011, 01:05
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

I believe, that it has to do with frequency. We talk to each other much more than with our immediate family. This creates a more in depth involvement into our everyday lives and therefore, we tend to care on a different level. With family, our care comes intrinsic. We were brought up to care for our parents, uncles etc. Our care for forum members happens through mental stimulation and therefore, is on a different level...meaning, we value it more even though it is hard to admit.

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Old 09.07.2011, 01:16
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

I wondered this as well over the last few days. Reminded me of when Princess Diana died in the UK. At least I have an excuse - I knew Begga well, so no blaming virtual reality for me :)

I believe one of the reasons so many people are grieving is because, despite the number of members on EF, and the number of friends (let alone friends of friends) on places like Facebook, this is still a very rare incident.

Plus, in this particular instance we have someone who was a prolific poster, who was well known, and managed to do all that hardly offending or insulting anyone.
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Old 09.07.2011, 01:16
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

This is an interesting topic, and one I've been pondering myself over the past week.

I think back to the halcyon days of 80s tape trading in the underground metal scene. News spread like wildfire then, too, even if at a slower pace. When something of this magnitude happened, we didn't rely on letters (our normal method of communication); we picked up the phone. But the community pulled together even if we didn't have a single source to do it (like here).

I've been involved in online communities for over 15 years now, and I've seen the passing of (unfortunately) quite a few people involved in these communities. Always there is a pulling together, a laying down of arms and a temporary truce between feuding parties to mourn the person who has passed.

Just because we don't always socialize in person, it doesn't mean we don't get to know each other (sometimes very well) through this forum, Facebook or other means.

All that being said, I have to say I've not seen quite this display of what can only be called group grief as we have this past week. Not even Mark's death seemed to send the forum into quite the same level of expression of grief that Begga's has. That does have me wondering, why was this the case.
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Old 09.07.2011, 01:27
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

Grief is handled individually, and is above comment.
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Old 09.07.2011, 01:31
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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Grief is handled individually, and is above comment.
But the sociological side of it is fascinating, is it not?
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Old 09.07.2011, 01:31
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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Grief is handled individually, and is above comment.
What do you mean by "above comment"? So there are some things, such as public grief (individual or no), which we are not allowed to talk about? Or do you mean it's impossible to discuss/explain as it's spontaneous?
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Old 09.07.2011, 01:58
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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What do you mean by "above comment"? So there are some things, such as public grief (individual or no), which we are not allowed to talk about? Or do you mean it's impossible to discuss/explain as it's spontaneous?
Best not to comment. Each to their own. Nothing to be learnt.
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Old 09.07.2011, 01:59
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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But the sociological side of it is fascinating, is it not?
Yes, internally. Not publicly.
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:04
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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Yes, internally. Not publicly.
Each to their own. My thoughts on it certainly don't take from the grief that anyone is feeling for anyone else. At least they're absolutely unintended to do so.
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:05
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

I feel that this kind of loss pulls us together but it also allows us to grieve for other losses that we have suffered individually.. Does that make sense?

My biggest haunt in this very sad loss is the moment that Beggas mum got the call, I am identifying with the pain, distress and disbelief that hits a family at this time. Collective emotion? Or empathy?

It's a real grieving experience for me.
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:10
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

Even though I partially agree with UTH (I cant believe I said that ), I also appreciated the opportunity to share the pain with fellow EFers, I did not feel alone. However, I have not been involved in the threads as much lately only to post some pictures of the site, as I also do need my space to grieve. I was not extremely close to Begga, but I considered her more than an acquaintance and truly liked her.

Last edited by Angela-74; 09.07.2011 at 02:31.
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:19
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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Best not to comment. Each to their own. Nothing to be learnt.
Really feel for those who say that there is nothing to be learnt.
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:19
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

I lost my brother, father in law and best friend, underneath petrol tankers, log trucks and an armoured vehicle... Recent events have unearthed feelings not properly dealt with. Nuff said. Not enough said, who knows.
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:21
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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I lost my brother, father in law and best friend, underneath petrol tankers, log trucks and an armoured vehicle... Recent events have unearthed feelings not properly dealt with. Nuff said. Not enough said, who knows.
I think I see where your coming from. My sincere condolences. x
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:26
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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I lost my brother, father in law and best friend, underneath petrol tankers, log trucks and an armoured vehicle... Recent events have unearthed feelings not properly dealt with. Nuff said. Not enough said, who knows.
I'm so very sorry for your losses
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:29
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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I lost my brother, father in law and best friend, underneath petrol tankers, log trucks and an armoured vehicle... Recent events have unearthed feelings not properly dealt with. Nuff said. Not enough said, who knows.
This is life. Beautiful, strange, unforgiving, surprising, crushing, uplifting...
Take care mate. Feel better.
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Old 09.07.2011, 02:29
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Re: Virtual grieving, why do we do it?

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All that being said, I have to say I've not seen quite this display of what can only be called group grief as we have this past week. Not even Mark's death seemed to send the forum into quite the same level of expression of grief that Begga's has. That does have me wondering, why was this the case.
Nonetheless, I have observed as a bit of an outsider that the mention of Marks life and death invoke a fairly strong reverence that seems to show no sign of weakening.

Maybe the fact that Mark was viewed as a father figure or progenitor, whereas Begga was viewed as a sibling or a little one, and this changes the way that we experience our grief in her passing.
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