Ways of grieving
The ways of grieving vary because there are as many different ways as there are bereaved persons. A professional should be aware that not all bereaved persons, for example, want to talk, but instead, they will prefer to process their grief with more concrete acts. On this page, we have compiled different ways of expressing and processing grief.
Publishing photographs on social media
Social media offers new ways of grieving. On social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, grief can be made into a shared experience of grief when bereaved persons share their thoughts in the form of, for example, photographs and texts. Others can convey their compassion and support through reactions, comments, and messages. Social media has made it easier to share grief due to social networking.
Internet, and thus social media, have made grieving increasingly more public. On social media, bereaved persons can reminisce and maintain their relationship with the deceased close relative or friend. According to studies, bereaved persons, who publish photographs on social media, express the state of their grief and accept their loss, emphasise the significance of memories, and share their thoughts about important days spent with the deceased close relative or friend.
Different emotions vary in the posts. Studies observed that by sharing photographs, bereaved persons might experience, for example, longing, wishes, gratitude, pride and joy. Negative feelings are also possible.
The importance of keepsakes can be significant for a bereaved person. When studying mothers who had experienced stillbirths, it was observed that the role of keepsakes in forming a mother’s and deceased child’s attachment relation after the death of a child is significant. Keepsakes allow a deceased family member to be part of the family. In addition to this, keepsakes maintain the memory of the child and authenticate the loss. For mothers who have experienced a stillbirth, keepsakes strengthen the child’s presence, allow the actualisation of parenthood, and develop the family identity. Keepsakes also work as a way of sharing social grief.
Keepsakes can be, for example, photographs of the deceased person, clothes and toys, and various angel statues acquired for the child.
A professional needs to be aware that the meaning of keepsakes, particularly for those bereaved persons who have experienced a stillbirth, is significant because they allow the bereaved persons to express and authenticate their grief and the reality of the loss. It is a professional’s responsibility to support bereaved parents and help them create memories, which affirm the loss. A professional can offer to, for example, take a photograph of the parents holding the deceased child or cut a hair curl from the deceased child.
Memorial tattoos are a bereaved person’s way of maintaining a connection with the deceased family member or removing grief-related stigma, often related to silenced grief, such as stillbirths or the grief related to a family member’s suicide. Tattoos are often taken in places where they are visible to others, hoping to get people to pay attention to them. Tattoos are hoped to keep the deceased person present and show that the attachment to the person still exists.