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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Can Technology Help You Through Grieving?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 24th 2009

elderly computerIn traditions all over the world, when someone dies, often times a community of people gets together to grieve the loss. Having this community helps each person feel supported during this often life changing and emotionally tumultuous time. However, in today's global village, more and more people are spread out; having moved far distances from home and may find it difficult to feel that sense of community during their grief. How is technology helping out?

There are a number of online memorial sites that have been popping like Virtualmemorials.com, Unendinglegacy.com, and SympathyTree.com, giving people a place to read about and connect with the memory of the person who has passed no matter where they reside on the globe.

I spoke with Louise Zweben, CEO of an interesting new site called Sympathytree.com, here is her story of how and why she came to the concept of creating a site to help people with grief.

Louise transplanted herself to Northern California from Scotland about 14 years ago on assignment with Sun Microsystems. Life had its way and she met her husband here, had two kids, and found herself rooted thousands of miles from home. During this time, many friends and family have passed on and she found herself increasingly disconnected from the process of grieving. She wasn't there with friends and family to sit and share stories or memories of the person who passed. Having worked in the Silicon Valley, she came up with the idea of having an interactive online memorial site where community can connect, share stories, pictures, videos, and resources.

She says that SympathyTree.com uses technology to deal with the problem of disconnection. She says that unlike other memorial sites which give people the ability to set up a web page for the person who has passed, her website is "more of a Facebook community for getting out the word of a loved one." It allows people to share and comment on stories, photos, and videos. Each person gets a calendar and it also has a viral notification system that sends out messages to all people in the community to get the word out.

The fact is, the computer has become part of many of our lives, so ofcourse, why not use it as a resource to support people in writing their feelings out, sharing resources, and connecting with one another around the person who has passed. This may not replace the process of getting together in person and grieving, but it provides a space to connect and share around the person's memory. Often times in grief, I let patients know they can set time aside each day (e.g., 30 to 60 minutes) to spend with the memory of the person who has passed. This provides an opportunity to really experience the feelings of grief which is important. I can see how spending time sharing and connecting through online memorials can be a good use of that time.

What are your thoughts? Please share comment and questions below. Your additions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.  

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

What is ugly? - Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. - Mar 26th 2009

As a Psychologist who has seen hundreds of people and studied the human psyche, what I have learned is that people who call others names in an attempt to feel superior have deep insecurity issues. It sounds to me like your mind is settling into a depressive style of thinking and it also sounds like you have a couple of women in your environment that aren't supportive to you at the moment. Sometimes when the depressive style of thinking rears its head, it becomes easier to ruminate on negative things that makes us feel more down. See if you can think of people who are supportive to you in your life and spend more time with them. Also, think of activities that have been pleasurable in the past and try to engage in those. Slowly, you can lift out of this space and cultivate the confidence to support you. I have just written a recent blog (March 26th) on a new way to relate to depressed mood.

they say you are ugly? - barb - Mar 25th 2009

Hi, Wow, I can't believe grown women would call you ugly! THis sounds like grade school bully crap. Honey, God, made you just the way you are. I am wondering if you say your are ugly,, and people know your self-esteem is bad, so they just push that buttton. Start thinking good thoughts about yourself. Start taking care of you... Does your supervisor know these girls say these things to you?? This could be a case of harrassment. Let somebody in.. just smile and be happy.. if they don't think they are getting to you.. it will stop. I would try the smile and act happy.. Dang it makes me mad.. and it makes you mad,, but you repress it and are depressed.. Who are they to think they are better than you? My guess is they somehow feel better about themselves if they make you feel bad.. listen there is something wrong with them. We all have insecurity issues.. Even models and movie stars have issues about the way they look. So come on and just be happy..

Im really depressed - curly85grad03 - Mar 25th 2009

Hi doctor, I always wanted to speak to a psychologists about whats happening to me but for some reason I felt embarrased and have never receive psychological help. Ever since I was in 7th grade I was teased and bullied alot and called ugly 'til this day. Now Im 23 years old and Im still called ugly and there is two specific girls who work with me that have spread rumors about me because everytime I arrive to work everyone just stares at me and before it wasnt like that. I know that one of them says that Im ugly and stupid and the other girl just says that Im ugly. Before I will eat lunch with everyone and now it feels that they have isolated me. I feel really bad and sometimes I ask myself why am I here a person like me shouldnt live. I'm afraid of loosing my job because I missed so many days because I just wake up and look at my self and see that ugliest person in this earth. I told my parents how I felt and they just are parents who of course they going to tell me that Im pretty but I dont believe them. Im just tired of this I just want to stay at home and never come out but my inside tells me I wish I could do all the fun things the other girls do.

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