I had just moved out of mom and dad’s house, and I was on my own for the first time, in my very own studio apartment.
Like every Sunday morning, I opened my laptop to check on the latest news. There it was. A huge photo of someone that I knew, and it said in big, bold letters “dead” right underneath it. I still remember how that front page was like a slap in my face, as I was completely unprepared for that kind of news that morning. I clearly remember just sitting there, confused, in shock and alone.
It matters a lot how devastating news like this are delivered. I would have preferred a phone call, letting me know that everything is going to be OK, but that something bad happened.
Today, kids get their news through a snap, a chat or a post. They then lose that short, but so important moment, to prepare themselves for what is coming.
No change of tone, no warning sign, just BOOM – right in your face.
RECEIVED THE NEWS ONLINE
When a celebrity or someone kids know dies, a lot of the griefing happens online. I can see it on Momio, every time. How they create posts, put together photos, share good memories, create a hashtag in their honour… and the list goes on.
It frustrates me when the official reaction is that “we are talking to the kids today, we’re having a gathering where everyone can talk and come together”. That’s fine and absolutely something everyone should keep doing. But what we need to remember, what is so important not to forget, is that the conversation both starts and ends online. Meaning, this is an area we need to remember when something tragic happens.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT GRIEF, IN SOCIAL MEDIA?
- What’s going on, in social media?
Talk to your kid about the death, like you normally would. But also ask about what’s going on in social media in regards to the incident. Are people talking about it? Has your kid posted about it? Maybe they can show you?
- How did you receive the news, and how did that feel?
Talk about how it felt to receive the news. How did your child figure out about what happened, and how did that feel? It helps to put words on the feelings that came rushing when first hearing about it.
- What do we think really happened?
When someone in the neighbourhood or a celebrity suddenly dies, there’s often not a lot of information about what happened during the first few days. This can be very hard, with so much speculation and rumours about what happened. Talking about it helps, and as grown-ups we might understand more of the situation than the kids. So try to read some articles together and share your thoughts as well.
- Do they still talk about it?
Follow up. Even though it might seem like everything is fine because no one is really talking about what happened anymore, the conversation could still be going on online. Ask about it, and be honest. For example: Do you still talk about it with your friends? Do you have any questions about what happened, or anything that worries you? How do you feel about it all, now that it’s been a while?