People find new ways to grieve with social media - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

People find new ways to grieve with social media

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After a person dies, his or her Facebook page remains open. With the help of social media sites, people are finding new ways to overcome their losses.

On March 8th, 2011, Melinda Kenney- Tackett's husband Brian was driving along Manchester Road near the Illinois- Wisconsin border when he lost control of his car. The vehicle slammed into a utility pole, then a tree. Brian and two of his passengers died.

"The first three months were the hardest. I was angry and I didn't have a lot of support," says Melinda.

Alone with their two young children, Melinda found comfort online. She turned to Facebook to mourn the loss of her husband.

While he was alive, Melinda and Brian sent messages to each other on Facebook. After his passing, she says it was only natural that she continue the conversation.

"it helped me let all my grief out, whatever I was feeling, writing it down just made it so much better, instead of holding it in," says Melinda.

Even our own 13 News family member, own Jeannie Hayes, who passed away in November, still receives messages on her Facebook page. Some posters share memories, express their sadness, or simply say hello.

It's stories like these that make grief counselors, like Sylvia Sanderson, add Facebook to their lists of grief management tools.

"Some people like it, because it's a way for them to memorialize their person who has died, and they can look on it and it makes them feel like they haven't been forgotten. I think they're changing the way that we grieve through the use of Facebook, "says Sanderson, a Grief Center Coordinator for the Northern Illinois Hospice and Grief Center.

But Sanderson says using social media to grieve has its downsides. "I think the number one thing I hear is that people feel so sad and lonely. loneliness is the hardest thing so if you tend to use Facebook too much, it actually increases your loneliness."

As the months go by. Melinda says she finds herself writing on Brian's Facebook page less frequently, saving her posts for special occasions.

"Dates are very important when somebody dies," say Sanderson. "Everybody remembers birthdays, they remember special anniversaries, and by being able to go on Facebook and see that other people remembered, there's some healing in that."

If the day ever comes where Melinda no longer posts on Brian's Facebook page, Melinda says she will still keep it open. "I don't think it's fair to close it down to other people who might want to write on it. Plus I'm afraid if I close it then I won't get to see our past conversations, our comments to each other."

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