11/10/2014 06:01 pm ET Updated Jan 10, 2015

Grieving in the Facebook Era


When a loved one passes away there is an instant shock, a nerve testing moment, when you hear the news for the first time. It is as though the universe within you is trying to adjust to an emptiness left by the person who parted; a deep ache, an indescribable hollowness. Through our lived experiences we react in the most natural of ways through lamentation, guilt, anger, and the eventual Facebook posting. How do we grieve in a day in age where you post your knee-jerk reaction on social media? Does it help ease the pain?

Two weeks ago, I lost my cousin in a fatal car accident. The news came as I was preparing to depart for a work-related event. Without hesitation, there were many tears, many memories that rushed to mind and there was also a Facebook post. The post came as an immediate cry letting the world know that a special person in my family had passed, a sort of realization that she would no longer be with us; A simple moment that encompassed my profound sadness and frustration of a life taken too soon.

Within half an hour a cousin called asking me to delete the post. She wasn't ready for it. She, wisely, asked that as a family we grieve by ourselves for a few days. I agreed and deleted the post. Taking my grievance offline helped me reflect and relive each moment I had shared with her, with Claudia. The holiday gatherings we spent as children fussing over the grown-ups, her marriage, the birth of her first child and my most treasured time -- the few months we worked together. How I ached to speak with her, ask her a dozen questions or simply embrace her one last time. It brought to mind how Jesus may have felt when learning of Lazarus' death. Jesus already knew that by Lazarus' death he would provide a miracle of life through resurrection. (John 11:1-46)

If Jesus had had the opportunity to grieve in the Facebook era, would he have brought Lazarus back or would he have posted his pain and let God heal all wounds? Would it be the same? By resurrecting Lazarus, Jesus was all too human allowing the ache of death overcome his emotions and without a doubt bring his beloved friend back to life. More so, it was a pivotal lesson that as we say our goodbyes to those departed, we must have faith that one day we shall see each other again. That faith in the grieving process aids us as we walk in darkness, unafraid to stumble in our pain, while we embrace life in all its forms.

Posting on Facebook is our very human attempt to bring our loved ones back, to freeze the time and share our loss. It is a striking balance of anger, pain, gratitude and coming to terms with the ending of life on earth. A cyber community joins you in grievance for an instance that suffices and aids in our healing process.

Let us remember that grieving is more than social media, too. It is an embrace of those living that allows the darkness of our souls to receive light; it is a touch of hands that guides us through our journey and an elevated prayer for those who have left us in God's perfect order. It is delving into memories and upholding traditions that make the transitions of life without your loved one easier as time heals all wounds.