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October 13, 2008

Dealing With Grief Online - Social Communities Offer Ways to Cope & Remember

By Li Evans

Sadness_endingbyrickmackaiWhen a family member dies, it can be one of the most difficult times a person can go through.  I found out first hand, just how tough it is when my father passed away at the end of last month.  Everyone has their own way of grieving, their own way of finding comfort when you loose someone close to you such as a husband, a father or a child. 

With the advancements in technology and communication, each and every passing day provides us with new ways to connect with others who can share share of grief, or help us deal with it in ways we never had before. As painful as it can be, even dealing with death, a person can find help and kind voices online in the form of social communities.

When dealing with all the details of taking care of my father's service and helping my mom get through all this, I was struck by something, something so simple, yet I found it quite comforting.  I'm not the type to read the obituaries first when I go to the online paper, I always sort of chuckled when people who are my parents' age habitually went to read the obituaries first.  But here I was finding comfort in an online obituary for my father, and in the notes of love, comfort and respect that were left for my mother, my sister and I.  Family, friends from very far away, and friends of ours who never even met my father but knew my sister or me left beautiful words of comfort.

Sympathydove This weekend reflecting on this got me curious what else was there out there.  I knew about Respectance, I wrote up a piece about it about a year ago, but was there more?  I wanted to find out what else there was and did a little digging.  From online memorials, to communities that help members deal with death, there's quite a lot out there.

Online Memorial Sites:
Legacy mainly provides the online obituary systems to local newspapers.  This is what the local paper uses that printed my father's obitiuary.  Legacy also offers on it's own site a place for individuals to create memorial websites, leave messages of comfort, and to connect with others in their community to deal with the grief that comes when someone dies.

As a member of Respectance, you can contribute to "memorials" that are already existing.  They seemed to have changed things - their focus a year ago was heavily on celebrities, Steve Irwin was prominently placed there last year, but now it's highly focused around Respectance members and their memorial pages.

Virtual Memorials has become a place where thousands of lives are celebrated, documented and shared. It has become a place that aims to provide comfort during the difficult times of grief.  They've been around quite a while, but not as "community" focused as Respectance is.  Members can build online memorials for loved ones who have passed on.

Like those listed above, Memory-Of is an online memorial site.  This site also has forums for members to discuss their dealings with death and grief. Along with a forum, the site offers a "Library" of suggested readings, as well as a way for people to buy gifts of thought and comfort for those grieving and dealing with the death of a loved one.

For those who consider them by faith, Christians, this online memorial site is also a social community like Respectance.  People can "friend" a memorial along with leaving messages of condolence.  This community also allows the people who creat the memories to keep sort of a "journal" as well.

This site is mostly for online commemoration of lost loved ones. Memorials include adding photos, video, audio and life stories.  The site itself also has a blog which highlights ways of dealing with death, and things to prepare for.  One nice thing about this site, the owners donate 10% of their income from the site to palliative and hospice care.

If you think online memorials are limited to just  people, think again.  People also memorialize their pets online, too.  Althought not quite as "social" as the people memorial online sites, most of these sites allow the owners of their departed pets to choose their own templates, sign guestbooks, add photos and information about the animal.  Some of these online pet memorial sites also have forums, which does add one more "social aspect".

Thank you, to everyone who sent emails, cards and the beautiful thoughts to my family and myself.  You all truly touched my heart and helped me get through one of the toughest times I've had to deal with.


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It was lovely to see you at SMX.

It's amazing how these sites can help. Another site I was told about recently is Caring Bridge http://www.caringbridge.org/ which is for people who need to update friends and family when someone is gravely ill. The person I spoke to said it had helped her family enormously.

Thank you Lorna. It was comforting to just hang out with just a few people like you at SMX. I was still feeling rather down at the time.

Thank you for this link too! I didn't find that one in my searches, so thanks for adding Caring Bridge to the list.


Thanks for the suggestions, in the last few months I lost my daughter (still hard to say) and a cousin (well loved) to cancer. Thanks these sites really help.

BTW My deepest respects to you and your family

Why THANK YOU SO MUCH for mentioning my site!
I so appreciate it!

I didn't know your father had passed - of course I haven't seen you since April. I'm so sorry for your loss.

I know he had recently had several health issues over the last year or so but I think the last I heard he was home and doing well. My thoughts and prayers are with you and you family during this tragic time.

A bit of a shameless plug, but I'd like to think Warm Tribute Online Memorials (WarmTribute.com) is an up and coming site and worthy of mention/review too. It has it's rough patches, but it's also a free service meant to immortalize your loved one by creating an online memorial.

This is such a warming strengthening web site.
Very soothing indeed !

Its now been 22 months and some, since my best-friend/hubby went on ahead to Glory. Many times, I feel like it was just yesterday, when the Ambulance came, worked on him for an hour, then that was it !
I've been sharing my story with many, hoping that in some small way I can help others, also in this position.

You good people may not realize just how many you help ! It is a extremely wonderful but necessary ministry !
And remember, God see's all good and evil. And I know, you will be rewarded abundantly for your diligence !
God Bless.

I am online so much, why not also share grief with people online? I am using riverofmemories.com ,they got nice templates. Tom
Online Memorials

I came across your website and I noticed you had some links to tribute websites which charge families money for the service. We have an entirely free memorial website service at http://tribute.perfectmemorials.com which allows people to create free tributes for people or pets.

Below is a sample tribute users can create:

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