ABSTRACT

People we leave behind mourn our deaths – although differing in terms of ways, degrees, and duration. Friends, family, and others create meaning in their grief, as they celebrate our lives and mourn our passing. Through memorialization, the living find comfort in the memories of and in continuing bonds with those they have lost. Klass and Walter (2001) find that in contemporary Western culture, individuals lack the cultural framework in which to incorporate the presence of the deceased into their lives. The continuing bonds thesis is flexible in its application to various populations and activities, and this study expands its application to cyberspace and social media. In this chapter, I argue that Facebook users’ public expression of their ongoing experiences with the deceased is a burgeoning phenomenon, regardless of a possible lack of cultural framework or performative script for doing so. Despite lacking a collective Western cultural framework for incorporating the deceased’s presence within people’s lives, interactions with a deceased individual’s Facebook page constitute a new public form of continuing bonds.