On grieving a distant friend

Some of you may have seen me tweet a link to a piece:  “How do you grieve an internet friend?” by Nicky Woolf, published in the Guardian at the weekend.  I’ve considered writing something similar for the press myself – and I may yet – but I wouldn’t do it within a mile of the Guardian CiF bear pit, so I commend Nicky for having the stomach. I want to write my own more detailed blog post on this subject but I’m a bit overloaded this week so I’ll save it for another time. For now, I’ll just leave the link here and say how grateful and glad I am to see a piece on this subject. Here’s part of my below-the-line comment (with mixed tenses left unedited…):

“…Two friends of mine died by suicide, the most recent in November, and while I had met them both “in real life” – one on countless occasions – I essentially know them because of the internet and a great deal of our communication was that way. For one of the friends in particular, many people who had never met him IRL were as hard-hit as I was. One of the most alienating things about trying to deal with what’s happened has been reading bereavement literature all aimed at partners and first-degree relatives. I really hope this changes as our understanding grows and reflects technology and society’s changes. At my lowest moments I have thought: “Damn it, if only I’d been this age 25 years ago, I’d never have met them, or if I had, we’d probably not kept in touch as much and I wouldn’t be feeling like this.” I have no more answers than you do, but I just wanted to say thanks.
As an aside, I don’t understand how there can still be people working in PR who think having an “internet friend” is weird or novel when the majority of people they talk to every day in their job are on email/Twitter…”

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