People don’t die in the same way that they used to. In the past, a relative, friend, partner would pass away, and in time, all that would be left would be memories and a collection of photographs. These days the dead are now forever present online and digital encounters with someone who has passed away are becoming a common experience.

Each one of us has a digital footprint – the accumulation of our online activity that chronicles a life lived online through blogs, pictures, games, web sites, networks, shared stories and experiences.

When a person dies, their “virtual selves” remain out there for people to see and interact with. These virtual selves exist in the same online spaces that many people use every day. And this is a new and unfamiliar phenomenon that some people might find troubling – previously dead people were not present in this way.

Yet for some, these spaces have become a valuable tool – especially so for the bereaved. An emerging body of research is now looking at the ways the internet, including social media and memorial websites, are enabling new ways of grieving – that transcend traditional notions of “letting go” and “moving on”.

Click here to continue reading the full article written by Jo Bell, Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences, University of Hull, in The Conversation.

Photo by  Hannah Wei on Unsplash