We often hear that grief has no timetable – and this is something we’ve both seen and experienced ourselves. Grief is a personal journey that is unpredictable and filled with setbacks and breakthroughs.
We’ve learned that all kinds of feelings emerge while grieving; some are obvious and visible, while others seem to linger just beneath the surface. We’ve even noticed that grief often heightens during spring and summer, which is something most Torontonians do not expect.
In the last 10 years or so, we’ve seen an entirely new way that people express grief and receive support: social media. When a loved one dies, friends and relatives turn to social media platforms like Facebook to share the obituary, post photos, and scroll through condolence messages. If the person who died had accounts of their own, these might transform into a virtual memory wall.
Our staff hears stories like this one:
I was in shock after my father died and felt numb when we planned his funeral – almost like I was sleepwalking. When I shared his obituary online, I couldn’t believe how many people commented on my post and on the obituary itself with condolences and stories about my dad, some that I had never heard. The support of these friends made me feel less alone and isolated.
My aunt was an animal lover, and when she died, we knew we wanted to honor that passion in some way. We ended up raising thousands of dollars for her favorite Toronto animal shelter thanks to posting about it on social media and the ability to make a memorial donation from an online obituary. I felt so good knowing my aunt’s legacy would continue through the financial support of the people who loved her most.
From sharing photos and videos of a loved one who died to receiving encouraging comments from those near and far, many people find a unique measure of healing and hope online. We often tell families that having a funeral brings home the reality and finality of a death. In a way, social media can do the same. It’s never been easier to revisit the messages, photos, and stories shared online after a death – and this keeps the memory of a loved one alive in ways that little else can.
If you’ve lost someone close to you, remember that our caring staff is here to help as you work through your own individual grief experience. Through using resources both in person and online, it’s our hope that your grief journey brings you to a place of happiness and healing. If you need help along the way, we’re here for you.