Rejoining online communities after cyberloss


Hi, friends.

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the length of this post. I don’t usually write two articles a month, but I thought this one warranted a longer post sooner rather than later.

For those of us who have lost online friends, there are specific challenges following a loss, as with any other significant bereavement. Those who have experienced a conventional loss may be forced to face the reality of seeing a loved one’s grave for the first time, whereas ‘we’ may be placed in a position of having to come to terms with the fact that we may never see or visit our friends’ resting places.

Due to society’s increasing reliance on technology, those who are bereaved of online friends are eventually faced with the decision to return to online communities. In my opinion, such a transition should be taken slowly. Online interaction after cyberloss can be stressful, as those affected may feel that they need to keep up the same level of presence they did previously. It’s important to remember that despite the unconventional nature of the loss, you must still allow yourself to grieve. Knowing somebody online simply means the medium is different, the friendship is still real.

My personal experience of returning to online community after cyberloss was jarring. I endured a period of about three months where I continually expected to hear from Chris, although I was conscious of the fact that she had died. It may be that new developments within the community are of less interest than they would otherwise have been.

Archived material and old posts could be useful when the decision is made to return to online communities, as they can provide an abundance of memories. In addition to revisiting old material, it may be helpful to welcome new members to communities. In the same way as life goes on in the material world after a loss, so it does in the virtual world.

This can at first be a difficult concept to grasp (again, I speak from experience) but as long as we tell the stories of those we have loved in online communities, they will remain a part of the fabric of those places. Finding some way to memorialize online friends on your own terms is also a possibility for making the return to online communities slightly easier.

In my opinion, the decision to return to online communities isn’t one that can be taken lightly. In many ways, it can stir up already raw emotions and lead to questioning. A role that may have once been defined by your friendship is no longer there, and that is tough. Wait until you feel ready to make the step, and then do it at your own pace.

Have you returned to online communities after a loss or even just a break? What was the transition like for you? Please feel free to share in the comments. 

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,

blog signature - 'Casey B'

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About Casey Bottono

I am in love with language. I write poetry and fiction in a wide variety of genres. Most recently, I have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities' Pen2Paper contest.
This entry was posted in cyberloss, Grief Loss and Bereavement and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Rejoining online communities after cyberloss

  1. Casey, there was a connection to Sancheeta through Blogplicity. She committed suicide several months ago. Sancheeta was not close to me, but was to so many others who share this site. It hurt today to see that Facebook is still inviting me to be her friend, and I found myself wondering why her family hasn’t taken her site down. Maybe, they are not in that place yet; still in denial. And, I find myself praying for them . . .
    As human beings, we do grieve our loved ones who are departed. May we find the strength to move forward in spite of our grievous losses.
    Blessings!

    • Casey B says:

      Hi, Martha.

      Thank you for sharing Sancheeta’s story with me. I think Facebook’s platform needs drastic improvement on that front. Although they have taken the step to allow members’ profiles to be ‘memorialized’, instances such as the one you described can obviously cause upset, and in some cases may launch the person back into grief. There may be a variety of reasons why her family have not yet deleted the profile, but it is wonderful of you to pray for them. 🙂 I love your closing words- amen.

      Blessings,

      Casey

      • melissa says:

        Hi Martha and Casey… I will be writing my entry here… and to respond to Martha’s query, I will be sending you both an FB message.

        I am not sure if my relationship with my other friends in our online communities will ever be the same… I have not engaged so much in them these past few months although I still visit each one every now and then. I have withdrawn myself in other groups.

        I find most of my friends very supportive but the thing is we do not talk about our loss anymore. Sometimes, I’d just PM some friends who’d write posts regarding loss or missing a person…

        Sometimes, we limit our loss to people who have died ~ there are so many forms of losses I guess…

        Your page is like an open book where I could breathe out everything… even if it’s like talking about the same things ~ or reminiscing memories… it’s always precious and always new…

        Thanks so much !

      • Casey B says:

        Hi, Melissa.

        Thanks for writing here, and for the FB message. I’ll follow up on that later. ‘I’m not sure if my relationship with my other friends in our only communities will ever be the same’ – I think that’s related to the stress I hinted at above. We try our best to maintain the same level of participation, but it’s not always possible. Not talking about loss is frighteningly common…we tend to just wipe it away, and want to forget. It’s OK to want to forget, but people must recognise that we might need to talk about them. Yes, there are different types of losses, as offline relationships might also change due to our online losses. Thank you for your comment, but thank you especially for your last paragraph…takes me back, because Chris wrote something similar about her thread on the George board…’Here is a garden in paradise where I can breath George’s peace…’ Different person, different sentiment, but both make my heart happy.

        It’s a pleasure to share this journey with you- God bless.

        Casey

  2. Tara_Windwalker says:

    As always, you express what I can’t find the words for. I have virtual friends that I can no longer find an update for, even via a search engine. I worry about them. If they are sick, I want them to know I care. If they have passed away, I want to know. I would also like to express to their family members why I cared so much for their loved one.

    • Casey B says:

      Hi, Tara.

      It’s a pleasure to have you comment here. 🙂 I think that’s the heart of it, and what makes online friendships so difficult. Because we’re ‘online’ friends, we can’t just pick up the phone and say ‘Hey, are you OK?’ like we might otherwise. (Alright, I’m a wimp, so I probably wouldn’t…but I’d pluck up the courage if I was really worried about someone.) Knowing if they’ve passed…yes. In some cases, I’d have liked to know sooner…but for whatever reason, that wasn’t possible. I’m working on forgiving that, though.

      Take care,

      Casey

  3. Casey – Just two days ago I read with shock a post from a regular blogger who wrote that her son aged 23 died on 17 Aug – two days before her post. She felt it was necessary to inform her readers about her loss and I appreciate the courage it took for her to share. As I continue to think of and pray for her and her family, I’m wondering how she will get back to blogging and networking after this terrible loss of hers. Things never are the same after loss are they? It changes our perspectives, our priorities.

    • Casey B says:

      Hi, Corinne.

      Thank you for sharing your friend’s story with me. I agree…the transition back to blogging and networking will be challenging, although not as challenging as accepting that loss. The change in priorities can be make or break. Coping with any kind of loss takes courage, and sharing a loss with the world as she has done, even more.

      Take care,

      Casey

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