Those of us who have lost online friends experience the same emotions as those grieving a conventional loss at this time of year, with many similar triggers, although there are unique triggers for us.
The exchange of Christmas greetings within the cyber community that the person we have lost was a part of can be a test, as can the moment where we wish our other online friends a happy new year, knowing that that person we’d once shared it with isn’t going to be around to share it.
I don’t know how you feel about this, but I have certainly found the pace at which time moves to be an issue. As the cyber community gears up to celebrate in the real world, and also online, there seems to be little time to remember those who have passed.
If you feel it is appropriate to remember the members of your cyber community that you have lost at this time of year, I urge you to do it. It can be very cathartic, perhaps more so at this time of year than any other.
Grief is painful, and can last a long time. Our grief is likely to linger as well, because of the nature of the loss. There is often no opportunity for us to say a final goodbye to the one we have lost, save for within our own private ceremony.
Ceremony and ritual are used to mark and grieve any other loss – why should it be any different for us? I urge you to create some form of ritual whereby you can remember the person you lost, and honour them at this time of year, or throughout the year if you so wish.