The death of a friend or loved one (human or pet) undoubtedly is one of the darkest times in our life, as we mourn their loss and look to move forward without them.
Like milestone family reunions and weddings, funerals tend to be one of the few instances where lives stop to pay attention to an important life-changing event, and to remember the impact the loved one made on our life and the lives of others.
Even the best writers have a hard time finding the right words to say to someone regarding the death of their loved one. But a personal connection — a hug, dinner or a chat on a couch in a living room — offers ways of showing someone you are there for them during an extremely important time of need.
So I am dismayed each and every time I see a friend’s Facebook page filled with dozens and dozens messages left by folks offering their condolences via something as emotionless as a social media outlet.
“hey hon sorry 4 ur loss” isn’t exactly the kind of uplifting message that would help get me through a situation as a difficult as losing a family member or friend.
Yet, people leave messages like that — in droves, actually.
Other messages are written with fewer spelling and grammar errors, but still don’t have the same connection as a phone call or even a hand-written sympathy card. One could argue a Hallmark card with printed scripture or some saying in a fancy writing style also offers no emotions. And one might be right. But at least their is a ritual of some sorts attached to finding the right card with the right sentiment, and then selecting a card that fits the person you are sending it to.
Within the last week, I learned of the death of a friend’s mother, who died in September. I was astonished to learn of her death, but also was amazed none of our mutual friends let me know.
When I called two friends to learn what had happened, both gave similar answers when I explained I felt bad for not knowing.
“I thought you’d have seen it on Facebook,” was the response of one of the two friends I called.
I see this particular friend’s silly posts and tons of the games she plays online, but one post about her mother’s death evaded me. And nobody thought to let me know.
I still have to send a card, but I did see this friend the other day and offered my sympathies, explaining why I hadn’t gotten in touch sooner. I felt bad. She felt bad that I felt bad that I didn’t know when it had happened.
When I learned of her mother’s death, however, I specifically chose not to e-mail her or send her a Facebook message. I couldn’t think of anything so emotionless than to offer condolences via the Internet.
What kind of world do we live in that we cannot — even for a few minutes or a few hours — stop to recognize the importance of a life lost? Sure, we all grieve in various ways, and some might find comfort in reading Facebook posts, but nothing ever can replace a calming voice and a focused ear (or two) listening and offering support.
Over the weekend, I learned of another friend’s mother’s death from last week thanks to the number of messages left on this person’s Facebook page.
I saw messages of support and sympathy — very kind gestures from friends near and far. One post caught my eye for its use of punctuation.
Apparently “:*(((“ is supposed to mean something like, “I’m not just sad or kind of sad, but I’m mega, mega, mega sad for your loss.”
A colon, asterisk and three parentheses don’t really offer the same affection as, say, a big hug and shoulder lie your head on.
If I end up living a long life, I hope that, by the time I die, it won’t be socially acceptable to attend a funeral simply by clicking a link and listening to the eulogy. I think we all deserve more than that.
twoday magazine wants to know if you think technology has changed the way we view love and loss. Share with us on our Facebook page.
Follow @twodaymag on Twitter to keep up with our fantastic team of writers.
Like this article by Bobby Cherry? Check other pieces he has written exclusively for twoday magazine: