Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

We Grieve Differently

Scott Simon, an NPR host, was tweeting recently to his 12 million followers about his experience during the death vigil of his mother. From the article written about the event in The Week magazine dated August 16-23 entitled, ‘Twitter: A death shared in real time’ has created quit a stir.

Writers from various news sources rushed to weigh in with their opinions about the appropriateness of this type of tweeting. Really? Why would anyone be surprised about it when social media has become so popular that over 70% of Americans now say they are connected to at least one site.

Each of us has our own level of tolerance or acceptability for information. Some feel that death should remain a private experience while others choose to share the highly emotional experience as a way to vent their raw feelings as it is happening. We each seek solace and understanding in our own unique ways.

While death is not something that we often choose to talk about it is, nonetheless, a natural part of the cycle of life that touches our very core. If Mr Simon felt the need to share the experience with others so be it. I do not walk in his shoes and therefore choose not to have an opinion on his choices. As Roger Ebert, the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism once said, ‘ imprisonment …is being unable to tell another person what you really feel.’

The easy part about being consummate communicators on social media is that we have the ability to choose what we want to read and watch. With a simple click we can exit a site, without comment, if it is not something we want to know more about.

Is it possible that we could allow others the right to choose what to share when it comes to something this difficult without feeling compelled to offer our opinions about it? Losing a loved one is tough enough. If we are present and watch the breathing of our loved ones become more and more labored and we are experiencing flashes of happier memories of the past we need all the support we can get in whatever form we are most comfortable using. Allowing others to grieve in their own way just seems like the right thing to do.

Rather than having an opinion on his tweet topic, I applaud Mr. Simon’s dutiful presence during such a difficult time and hope that he was able to witness a look of peace when his mother took her last breath knowing that, ‘All is as it should be.’

Have a peaceful few days!

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