8 Tips on Moving Through Grief in the Age of Social Media

Tiffany Wright, MSW
Jan 29 · 4 min read
Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

The digital age can make certain emotional experiences extremely difficult to move through. When loss, transition, or any type of event that can bring about mourning and grief occurs, social media and the overwhelming amount information on the internet, can make going through these experiences challenging in a way that previous generations did not have to deal with.

This past week, the world lost a person that was idolized beyond talent, but was inspirational for his drive, mental strength philosophies, and leadership. In connection to the loss of Kobe Bryant, many people felt impacted by the loss of children and parents that were aboard his helicopter, who also passed. Anytime a flying vessel gets into an accident that leaves fatalities, it feels tragic. But this, to the world, has been absolutely tragic.

Major stories like these, stop the average person in their track, and lead one to consider the unpredictability of life, and realize the limits of mortality. When we have big news stories like this, especially when the story is surrounding a major public figure, it brings up so many other complexities around grief.

Because we are human, we are connected; and we always have the capacity to feel pain when others, whether we know them or not, are hurt, experiencing injustice, or in pain. It is no shock that people of all backgrounds, all around the world, are being impacted by this helicopter accident, which will continue to be in headlines for the next week or so. Beyond this news, it appears that every other week, we hear of a natural disaster, politically motivated act of violence, or mass shooting that is tragic.

In light of not only the loss of the Kobe and Gianna Bryant, but also John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Peyton Chester, Ara Zobayan, and Christina Mauser, I would like to share 8 tips on how to navigate grief in the social media age.

  1. Limit intake of social media and news surrounding death.

The brain is having a difficult time enough processing change; being over exposed to images and content does in fact, make the pain deeper. Finding the healthy balance between acceptance and avoidance is important, but too much exposure can cause a sense of trauma to the mind.

2. Limit exposure to details of death.

Contrary to popular belief, details of death do not grant “closure” or ensure emotional composure. In fact, it may do the opposite. It may illicit fear, worry, and lasting fixation on how the person passed. As a result, your brain may create its own images which may replay causing you to re-experience the person’s death, thus creating difficult emotions.

3. Take alone time when overwhelmed by other’s condolences.

People mean well, around the times of death, however, sometimes you just need to breathe. Within the first 24–72 hours there is intense shock and grief. Handle your energy and attention with care. Its ok to take time to be with your initial thoughts and emotions around the loss, without engaging in conversation.

4. Memorialize the deceased.

There is power in staying connected to deceased. Everything is energy, and the energy of the deceased are merely transformed into other forms. Honoring the decease allows you to celebrate them and their connection to you. It also eases the pain of what a traditional notion of death and attachment looks like.

5. Feel your feelings & reflect on what’s coming up for you.

Death will bring up all types of emotions; anger, sadness, guilt, confusion, and emptiness. One can feel lost. One will likely feel in denial. All of it, is fine. Try to also grant yourself the gentleness to create space for whatever comes up.

6. Connect to the values and impact of the deceased.

What is it about the person that means so much to you? What connected you to them? What is it about the way they lived their life, that positively impacts you? What legacy did they leave on your heart? This is another way to not only memorialize the dead, but also to stay connected to them. Whatever impact they have made on you, does not change. You can remind yourself that you can carry their legacy with you, always.

7. Honor previous griefs that come up.

Witnessing, learning about, or experiencing death, tends to regurgitate other experiences of grief. Loss is interwoven throughout our whole lives; both physical and emotional loss. Therefore, it is only natural that when we experience one loss, it will open the part of our emotional brain that knows similar pain and sorrow. Its ok. Identify what comes up, breathe through it, and let it pass like a wave in the ocean.

8. Release grief through creative and somatic (body FOCUSED) methods. All emotions are held within the body on a cellular level, therefore its important to be open to all the ways that we go about regulating, managing and releasing our emotional experiences. When you’re in moments of mourning, be open to creative expressions like drawing, coloring, painting, sculpting, writing, or playing music. Also be open to finding avenues that allow for body movement like dancing, martial arts, yoga, stretching, acupuncture/acupressure, or therapeutic massages.

As a fan, admirer, world changer, sister, parentless adult child, and mental health clinician, this has impacted me immensely, and simultaneously moved me to continue focusing on my purpose, and living a full life. #mambaforever

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