Have our electronic devices separated us from each other so much that it’s now normal to text people about a loved one’s death?Has it become routine to attend the funeral of a friend or a loved one and start snapping selfies?Why would someone let their cellphone ring during a funeral service and then answer it and continue talking?We are in a strange state of communications today.
The first time I saw a selfie taken at a funeral I have to say I was really shocked.
I didn’t know the young girl in the picture but she tweeted a picture of herself and a couple of her friends at a funeral and it looked to me like they were more at a party than at a funeral service to pay their respects to the family of the deceased. Her selfie felt sad to me.Call me old fashioned but I think taking pictures at a funeral is way over the line.
But I also realize dear readers that not everyone feels the way I do. Please share your thoughts on these situations if you would like for I’d love to hear what you have to say.The anonymity and global reach of the internet has helped people open up to exercising a new kind of dialogue about grief and loss but that dialogue is not without its’ extremes. I must include myself in this online grieving movement because I have been blogging and writing Cry Laugh Heal for almost four years because I wanted to help others and add to the ongoing dialogue and I also visit many other sites where people freely discuss many private aspects of experiencing a loss.
I have found most internet sites to be very helpful in making me feel less alone in my feelings but I only discovered them by accident through my own research. My support group didn’t suggest any web sites and when my husband died ten years ago it would never have occurred to me to go to my computer for comfort.At that point, my life and the life of our young son was turned upside down and inside out and I never thought about going online to find a grief chat group or even to begin blogging about my thoughts concerning loss or developing resilience. I’m sure at that time there were people who were blogging about grief and loss but I just didn’t know about them and didn’t have the energy for trying to find them.I was totally consumed with just trying to keep it together. I went back to working full time after taking about ten days off to arrange the funeral and burial of my husband and our son couldn’t wait to bury himself in schoolwork so that he could forget about his father’s death.
Today online discussions about grief seem to everywhere with scores of websites and blogs focusing on many different kinds of losses: the death of a spouse, a child, a friend, a partner, a parent or even a pet. I think this is a great development; a healthy and wonderful thing because for decades people never discussed the emotional effects of their abrupt losses, the shock or trauma they felt seeing their loved one die or what they did to help them get whole again after their loss.However, our electronics can sometimes serve to disconnect us and a very sad event this week in the news brought this to mind. As friendly and open as the internet can be to unfettered dialogue about loss, it can also be cold in its execution.I still find it hard to believe that Malaysian Airlines chose to text the relatives of the 153 passengers aboard Flight 370 to tell them that no one on board survived the plane’s mysterious disappearance. What happened to exercising some human contact and compassion? The airlines should have had a room setup with grief counselors and put someone in charge of personally giving them such tragic news.While it did not look as though anyone had survived the strange crash, no one gives up hope until there is evidence to do otherwise. Texting the information was cruel.
Cellphones ringing in church? This has happened a few times at my parish during Mass and it never ceases to surprise me that people act casual while the phone is ringing and they don’t seem to be in a rush to turn off their phones. Instead, people let their phones (no matter what the ringtone) continue to ring during Mass or a funeral service. It’s plain rude. What about when people answer the phone during a funeral service and continue to make conversation? “Hey! How are you? Yeah I’m at a funeral right now. Um, I think I’m okay. How about I call you later?” Turn it off before you get into the service. Put it on silence. Please. It’s not that hard.
Our actions with electronic devices and our behavior on the internet only requires some thought about how our decisions will affect others.
Let’s be careful out there.