Mourning A Loss On Social Media
It started in January of this year. I was fairly optimistic about the fresh start of the New Year. Little did I know that 2020 would turn out to be a shitty year, but I suppose that’s a topic for a whole another post. However, with the New Year, I noticed a change in my social media experience. Let’s put it that way. I’m about to go dark but bear with me. This particular post is written with the most respectful and kind intentions.
At the start of January, a person on my Facebook friends’ list died from brain cancer. I use the term Facebook friends loosely because we’ve never met in person. We lived in different cities and the opportunity never presented itself. But I distinctly remember donating a sum of money in her Crowdfunding campaign to keep her treatment, and at one point she thanked me in a private direct message. Other than some pleasantries, we’ve never exchanged much info, but you could find out volumes from her Facebook profile. She was roughly my age, she had an infectious smile, and she was a fighter. Seriously, there isn’t a single photo of her that she’s NOT smiling. I don’t know how she did it. I could imagine that she was in a lot of pain, but she smiled constantly. Sadly, she died after 4 year battle with cancer, but if you look at her Facebook profile you wouldn’t know that she was sick, let alone dying. She was radiant, positive, and beautiful.
And in May of this year, I found out about the death of an ex-boyfriend. He died from a heart attack, the same ailment that took the life of his father. He was 33, and he died in his sleep. We’ve lost touch over the years, but we remained fairly good friends after the break-up. He was kind, he was a Faith No More fan and he had an incredible sense of humor.
Sadly I’m not done. Those two are just the ones that lived in my country. Just last week, I found out about the death of Saima Thompson. A 31-year-old woman from London who lost the battle with lung cancer. She was the founder of a Masala Wala Café, and I made my bucket-list wish to eat in that café one day. She was a foodie and a young bride just like me. She was so young and fought hard until the very end.
You see my mother is a cancer survivor so I have a pretty unhealthy amount of empathy towards the sick. My mom was one of the lucky ones, but I’m sad to see such young people dealing with this crap. I always try to help out (financially or just by offering other types of support), but I’m always saddened to see those same people die.
Which leaves me to the topic of my post. For the most part, I get informed about passing on social media. Before the eventual death, most of the people I follow document their journey through the good and the bad, and I can’t help but feel involved. I’m overjoyed when they’re doing well, and I’m deeply crushed when they don’t make it.
But I mourn them on social media as well. I don’t know, maybe they made a bigger impact of my psyche, that I care to admit. And maybe because of that I can never unfriend or un-follow the social media pages of the diseased people. I just can’t. The logical part of my brain says that I should but I can’t bring myself to do that. I feel that I invested a large amount of my positive energy, thoughts, and well wishes that abandoning them after they’re gone seems like a major betrayal. Like they should be forgotten and no longer matter just because they’re no longer with us.
I followed their lives, their cancer struggles, their ups and downs on social media, and I feel that I should mourn them on social media as well. Grieve them in this virtual world of nothingness. Is it OK to do that? And on the social media platforms? Is it too tacky or disrespectful? I’m struggling with these thoughts right now.
I can’t bring myself to delete or un-follow the Instagram page of Chef Fatima Ali (who died last year), and so many others as well. I know that in these dark and uncertain times, my depression and anxiety seem to be going off the charts, but I find myself thinking about these things. A lot. I’m grieving on social media. What would you do if you’re in my place? Would you also mourn the known and unknown people on social media? Or you’re happy to let go of some of them? Tell me.