Grieving on Social Media

This week is the anniversary of the day I lost a childhood friend.

At work this past week, I overheard a coworker’s conversation about the passing of a loved one. She expressed that she found it “annoying” that other family members constantly share memories of that person on the day of their death and on their birthday and that she would rather not have the public reminder of the loss.

I felt like I had my head on a swivel - I’M THAT GIRL! I lost my mom 17 years ago, so every birthday, heavenly anniversary, Mother’s Day or holiday I’m sharing some type of memory or feeling I have of her.

As a very rational person, I understand death is hard and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I also realize everyone is different in how they deal with grief, so who is anyone to judge how someone else handles it?

Because social media has the “like” option, I think many people assume when people share a memory of a loss publicly they’re doing it for attention, but I don’t think that’s the case most times. Maybe they just want the memory of their loved one to live on? Maybe they want people to know they haven’t forgotten about their grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, parent, child, friend, or even their childhood pet? Maybe they never saw a grief counselor and this is their therapy? Or maybe they are doing it because they want to talk about their loved one, but they feel they can’t talk to anyone?

For myself, I know I have had some or all of the reasons every time I’ve shared a memory of someone I’ve lost. There is no handbook on how to deal with a loss as profound and permanent as the death of a loved one. Our grief is our own burden to bear and no one should be shamed for dealing with it in their own way, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it may be for the people around them.

I hope this post has raised some awareness of the complexities of grief, particularly when its shared on social media. The next time you see someone grieving publicly, I urge you to think a little deeper, and with a little empathy. You never know how much they may be hurting. I urge you to reach out and offer a kind word - its a small gesture, but one that will probably mean the world to them.

Written in honor of Tyler & my mom. 

Disclosure: A version of this post originally appeared at erikasisson.com

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Erika Sisson

Erika made the move from small town Ohio to Cleveland in 2012. She works downtown in the banking industry, but her passion for fitness and wellness has led her to a successful entrepreneurial career as a coach with Beachbody. She is recently engaged and a mom to two crazy rescue pups. She lives by the mantra ‘find your balance’ because she believes there’s a fine line between being healthy and living your life. She also really loves elephants, a good cup of coffee and forcing her fiancé to take workout selfies.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Gave me goosebumps. Thank you for opening up. It’s not the way I grieve, but you are right in reminding us that there is no rule book for how to process emotional pain. And if I might add, I’d rather see a thoughtful post in honor of someone’s memory then a complaint or video of a squirrel waterskiing.

  • Oh, Erika - you touched me with this one. We have all seen the online shaming that happens daily, especially with women. We shame each other for the way we dress, the way we kiss our kids, the role we play at home, how passive we are, how direct we are and our diets. The list could go on and on - so thank you for this great reminder that social media and platforms like SheInTheCLE.com are meant to GIVE people a voice - and it’s very intersting to notice the women who only use theirs to tear other people down. On a side note, I hope this week is as good as it can be for you with the anniversary of losing your friend. It’s never easy — so hang in there! Thank you again for contributing.

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