Dealing with Death in the Digital Universe

The hardest part is letting go.

They say change is a good thing, however they neglect to mention the Herculean efforts that go hand in hand with accepting change.

Losing someone close is never an easy task. The universe serves constant reminders of them on a daily basis, as if to torment you further. In the days of old, the memories of our dearly departed loved ones lingered in our thoughts, in picture albums locked away in some attic somewhere, in letters long neglected and hoarded in a box for safe-keeping. Sooner or later, their words turn into figments of our imagination, their jokes, their mannerisms, disappear as with their mortal vessel, leaving behind a shade that resides in our memories.

That used to be the case, however, it is no longer so. For now, people not only have an impact and a trace in the real world, they also leave behind a trail on the digiverse – the digital universe- their unique style of writing (tweets or status updates), their comments, their photographs. All available at a moments notice, instantly refreshed as the reality of their departure has not dawned upon their digital selves.

All that used to require a strong effort to call forth is now readily available at the click of a button; you no longer need to rummage through heaps of boxes to find that school yearbook with your dearly departed friends photograph in it, you need not dig up your old textbooks where you doodled together. No. It is much easier, and in ease it becomes much more distressing, all the more difficult and painful.

How can a person truly move on if they are constantly reminded by what was? How can a person truly be gone if their presence is still characterized online via posts, comments, tweets, pictures etc?

What is worse is that these memories are in fact realities. When depending upon the power of our memories, as humans we have the inherent ability to paint over the pain and amend it to be viewed in favor of the dearly departed. The digiverse is cruel in that regard. All the arguments, the fights, the tempers and the anger is right there on the screen, in black and white. Is that how we wish to remember them?

Before life used to be simple. You would sit idly and let your mind wander, remembering the good times, painting over the bad, say a quick prayer for them and move on through the day. Sadly, that is not the case now. Their digital imprint remains a part of your daily life, their pictures will always look back at you, smiling.

How does one deal with death in the digital universe?

Not only are you liable to keep checking their Facebook account, scouring through their pictures and comments, but the bot services in social media are not likely to leave you in peace.

Unless otherwise informed, these services continue to “promote” these non-existing users, whether simply reminding you of their birthday, or asking you to check up on them as you have not done so in quite a while. That in itself is quite the traumatic experience, to be reminded of the birthday of someone who is no longer with us.

There are companies that specialize in removing digital imprints of your personality left on the web for the world to see and remember, whether it be for mortality of legality, the service exists. Facebook itself allows users to memorialize the death of their friends and relatives, by keeping the page open however disabling all notifications related to the account so as to prevent any form of trauma from appearing.

The true power of love lies in our ability to forget, to rely on our internal memories, rather than external trails, to remember those we have lost along the way.

Letting go of someone you lost is not a crime, it is not a sin. You will never truly forget them. They will continue to live inside your memories, thoughts of them will stir up emotions, both positive and negative, only the positive will always overcome.

The hardest part is not letting go, it is moving on. It is a decision that must come from within, it cannot be influenced by external factors, no matter how noble or sincere their efforts. The desire to move on must spring from within.

Mourn. Remember. Move on.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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