Whilst chatting with a regular reader of Navigating Cyberloss on Thursday, our conversation sowed the seed for this post. The person responsible knows who they are!
One of the things which makes grieving the loss of an online friend so unique and difficult is the lack of entitlement we feel towards the mourning rituals that the rest of society hold sacred, and carry out without a second thought.
Unfortunately, that can mean that we are excluded from such rites and have to find our own way to recognise the loss and honour the person whose life we had the privilege of being a part of for a time.
Within close-knit forum communities, it may be easy to rally other members to pay tribute, but in other communities within which people were less close, it is much more problematic. The nature of the Internet also places restrictions on when people can unite due to time zones – what may be convenient in the UK may not be so in the US for example, or vice-versa.
However, it remains vital that we find a way to recognise and grieve our loss, whether in the context of a meticulously organised, perfectly planned ‘funeral’ in an online game, or a more personal, individual ritual.
You knew your friend best, and you are the only person who can decide what would be the greatest way to honour them. It may help to remember that it does not matter when you perform the ritual or ceremony – whether your loss was five years ago, this year, or last Thursday, there is always an opportunity to reflect and remember.
You might end up playing some of their favourite music, lighting a candle and saying a few words, or sitting with a notebook and just writing about them for a while -whatever you do is right for you.
Another option is to ‘consecrate’ a place to which you can make a pilgrimage of sorts to be with your friend. It doesn’t have to be wild and out of the way but it should be somewhere which resonates with you, and a place to which you can return to mark significant dates, if you so choose. I love the beauty and peace of St. Nectan’s Glen, the holy waterfall to which I made my first such pilgrimage for Chris in August 2007. I am still grappling with losing Kim and the emotions surrounding that, so I haven’t chosen ‘her’ place yet, but I will when the time is right.
Returning to the subject of personal remembrances – you should not feel compelled to jump back into life right away after performing your ceremony – it is important that you take as long as you need to be with the emotions that your act of remembrance may have thrown up.
Hopefully you will devise a ritual that you can use at any time when you are missing your friend and help yourself to let a bit more light into your world. Alternatively, if a grand ritual isn’t for you, or wouldn’t have been appropriate for your friend, you can always check out the Navigating Cyberloss article on remembering without a specific place to go for a few more suggestions.
I wish you wellness, happiness and peace during the holiday season. Aum, peace, amen.