Just about every experience after loss is different from those that came before it. There are different meanings to things, and different ways you react. One large piece of my life that has changed quite a bit is the way I perceive and use social media after baby loss.
Social Media: A Landline After Loss
I honestly have no idea how anyone got through losing a child before social media. When my son, Jonah, was diagnosed with heart block at 18 weeks and hydrops a few weeks later, the internet (and social media in particular) became my refuge. I found a Facebook support group specifically for hydrops and was able to find a lot of comfort and support there.
During my pregnancy with my sick boy, Facebook was also the way I communicated what was going on to my family and friends. I had a CaringBridge site that I would update, then share on Facebook. It felt so great in those moments to have a way to inform everyone about how Jonah was doing, and I had a lot of support there from those I’m connected to on Facebook.
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After Jonah was stillborn, I found whole communities to become a part of that held me up. These communities were hidden to me when I had yet to need them, but when the need arose, they were easy to find. I found Still Standing, multiple Facebook groups for parents who’ve experienced loss, an entire support network of family and friends, and a large community of loss parents on Instagram.
So, at the worst time in my life, I was able to find so much support and love and community to hold me up.
However, at a year and a half post-loss, I’ve found some larger social media decisions that need to be made.
To Friend, Or Not to Friend? That’s the question.
Life goes on after loss. It just does. You don’t think it will, but it does. Inevitably, you meet new people. They request your friendship on Facebook.
Before loss: “Oh, such-and-such friended me. Hm. I don’t know him that well, but he seems cool so sure, accept!”
Post-loss: “Oh, such-and-such friended me. Hm. I don’t know him that well. He seems really cool though. But my whole life is on my Facebook wall, and it’s deep and it’s intense and Jonah is on there. He doesn’t know about Jonah. Does he deserve that level of intimacy with my life? Will he see Jonah on my profile and be awkward around me in the future? Should I tell him about Jonah before I accept his request? Maybe I just shouldn’t accept his request at all.“
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I’ve had this internal struggle every time I’ve received a friend request post-loss. It’s no longer a simple decision, and I sometimes leave requests up for days before I decide yes or no.
Anyone who has experienced any deep loss can talk about changes in friendship afterward. You lose some, you gain some, and some just get awkward. In my experience, social media is just another dimension of this friendship dance. Just like you decide how far to let someone in when you’re meeting them in person, you need to do the same on social media.
How do you handle friend requests post-loss?
Feature Photo: StartupStockPhotos on Pixabay