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Social Media and Grief
Instant messages and social media etiquette on sympathy and grief

Losing a Child Unexpectedly

Recently a friend unexpectedly lost a 18 month old little boy. It was sudden and not expected. It was not an accident, it was not a known disease, but it was a simple illness that ravaged his little body and took his life.
This friend happens to also be on facebook. I've talked before about grieving on facebook here. Social Media is here, and like it or not it is a new way of communicating instantly with friends, family and acquaintances around the world. Within minutes people all over can know your thoughts, what is happening right that moment in your day and respond.
As is with this friends family. Hundreds gathered around their facebook watching for updates and praying their son would be okay. I mean how many children get sick and die instantly? With medical intervention it seems impossible that a little child who was healthy not just a few days before could get so sick that modern intervention could not stop it. But it couldn't fix it this time. They lost their little boy. Within minutes a friend posted on their facebook account that his little heart had stopped and measures would be taken to get it re-started. From all over the country people sat at their computers as tense as the mom and dad in the room with this little boy. Praying, pleading, waiting. With breath held we waited as another status came up, he is gone. The questions, the shock, the sadness was shared by hundreds instantly. As parents we sat there that day realizing and feeling the pain of losing a child.
For weeks the parents have posted updates. The good and the bad moments. Strangers in real life, we have bonded on a social media website to offer support and prayers. Experiencing the realization that there are no more good night kisses, no more picking up toys. We have been there when dad posted how sad he was not to empty the nursery diaper pail, and the wish that he had spent an extra hour just holding him.
Social Media has allowed us to experience the grief process in a different way. It some ways I think it's a good change, in other way I wonder. I'm not here to debate it. It's here and there just isn't anything we can do besides remove ourselves from it.
Listening to the parents on this website, who have been very honest, some thoughts on social media etiquette for grief.
1. You don't have to try and cheer me up. It's just an outlet for me.
2. Don't feel you have to have the answer. I'm just letting out steam.
3. Your prayers are always appreciated. It's good to know someone cares.
4. Don't ask what you can do. I don't know myself what I can do.
5. Cards, memories and photos are very much appreciated. It helps me know my baby is not forgotten.
6. Yes it will get better, but I'm having a hard time understanding that. Please refrain from telling me that unless I ask.
7. Don't ask me how I'm doing, I just lost my baby. Instead just drop me a line letting me know your praying for me.
8. Memories of your own loss are sometimes helpful, but too many can make me feel like my loss is less important then it really is right now. I can not give you support, I'm hurting.
9. Don't like my posts of sadness, I understand what your trying to do, but it hurts.
10. Just because I'm on facebook, doesn't mean a sympathy card in the mail is not necessary. I'm keeping them in my babies memory book so he knows how much he was loved.