No parent should outlive their child. And, yet, tragically this happens so often. Just last week, some old family friends’ young, 20-something son, was knocked over and killed by a car in a hit and run accident. The death of a young person so filled with unrealised potential is heart wrenching agony. It’s almost to difficult to process.
But then my wife pointed out something about how Michael’s friends were processing their grief and expressing their condolences. I have noticed this enough times to believe that it is a generational characteristic and worth paying attention to by those who try and understand the differences between generations.
Michael’s Facebook page has been instantly turned into a memorial to him. Memories and photos are being uploaded, poems written and friends and family from many different parts of his life are all interacting together in a digital remembrance ceremony. Pain is expressed and shared. Many of Michael’s friends have changed their own Facebook profile pictures to ones that include themselves and Michael.
These instant eulogies are modern day wakes, and serve the wonderful purpose of helping people process their grief. There is a wonderful sense of community in this digital world.
When Facebook recently changed their policies and threatened to delete inactive pages, there was strong push back from families and friends of those with these memorial pages. They felt that these pages should be left online as a lasting memorial.
For those still wondering how Generation Y might manage true relationship, deep connection and intimacy in a digital world, maybe Facebook memorial pages will give you some hope. I know they have brought much peace and love to the families of young people tragically taken from this world.