Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Public Grieving. Yes or No?

by Cynthia Caron

I recently had a family member of a missing brother, located deceased, tell me that her family is unhappy that she exposes her soul in grief to her brother publicly online. Apparently his wife and children do not like that she always writes on his "missing page" her feelings and the family feels grief should be "private." It did not take me long to think about how to respond, after all I too turned "public" with my own grief in the passing of my mother 8 months ago, and I explained "It sounds like your family all grieve in different ways and may find it puzzling as to why you've chosen your way to grieve publicly?" I further explained, from my view, that one of the remarkable things about grieving online is that there is a world of support "at your fingertips" and it enables you to people who not only has experienced the same but also wonderful and kind words that you may never have heard before in your own small circle and family? Sometimes those words are the perfect messages of comfort that you never thought before which can help you through your grief."

There is something about sharing emotions and learning new and positive ways to cope that aids in the grieving process. This is not something new due to the internet, fact is many years ago entire villages used to gather to mourn the passing of another member of their community. All over the world there are different rituals and ceremonies built around public gatherings of strangers to mourn the loss of "one of their own." We too do this in many ways from gathering when a young soldier is killed overseas and his or her body returns to our towns and we do the same when we have public candlelight vigils for our missing as well as for tragic deaths that may have occurred in our towns. I think in my own personal life the first "event" I was exposed to with a public "gathering" was when President John F. Kennedy was shot and all homes gathered around their televisions and everywhere I went with my parents I saw the grief and heard the conversations. There was something comforting about having such a bond and seeing so many people "experiencing the same" and being able to talk about it. Public postings on social network sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, is another way of being able to reach out in a more personal level to others for comfort and solace. It does not mean one is not receiving it "at home" or that one is looking for "attention' it is merely one is using all tools available to them to gain insight and to bond and learn from others who have experienced the same…and every person who has ever had someone they love pass away can relate. I think it is a positive move towards healing and building self-awareness and is healthy.

In helping her, I suggested that perhaps her sister in law is not in the same place of grief as to where she is and maybe the public posting makes her feel "guilty" in some way that she cannot bring herself to post as she is not at that level, or *stage, in her own grief process, and perhaps she start a new page, or blog, and title it "My brother's in heaven?" This way her sister in law and nieces can decide if they wish to go and read, join in the postings…or not. What do you think? Do you think public grieving should be kept private?

To learn more about the 5-stages of Grief, and Complicated Grief, go to:

Cynthia Caron
LostNMissing, Inc.
NamUs-Victim Advocate (NH)
11aEm- Copy (2)

LostNMissing Inc., is an all-volunteer national tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (the "code") and qualifies as a public supported organization under Sections, or Categories: P99 (Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C.); M99 (Other Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness, and Relief N.E.C.); I01 (Alliance/Advocacy Organizations). LostNMissing is organized and incorporated under the laws of the State of New Hampshire. We never charge a fee for our services.


  1. Public grieving is important. There is no expiration on grief. I would only ask why you are choosing to align yourself with an organization that is not necessarily the best one out there. I enjoy your blog very much. You are very compassionate in doing this type of blog. Thank you

  2. I don't think it needs to be public, or needs to be private- it needs to be right for that person. But I don't think it's best to do it publicly to an audience of family who isn't so okay with it- especially his children. Her own public, yet not directly tied to the rest of his family space would seem most appropriate.

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