One of tonight’s guests, Prof. Roger I. Simon, told me that people will grieve with whatever tools they have at hand. When thousands of families were left mourning in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, they couldn’t have possibly have foreseen the support network that would flourish online.
But the place where mourning really came to rest on the Internet, was on Facebook. I saw it first-hand when a teenager in my neighbourhood was murdered last winter. The tributes and art-work that poured in was astounding. Strangers left messages of condolence; others expressed their rage at what had happened. What was most touching was how the Facebook was full of young adults, navigating their way through the grieving process. School was still closed for the Christmas Break and many of these kids had no where to turn but online.
In light of Katherine Ashenburg’s article, The New Death Etiquette in this month’s Toronto Life magazine, Facebook is a big part of this revolution in mourning.
On a producer’s note, I got to speak to various 9/11 family members this week and I was astounded by the network of support this community has developed. From websites set up to support those left behind to organizations set up to advocate for the families or promote peace, there is a place for everyone personally touched by this event.
What’s also interesting is the growing field of literature and memoirs on 9/11. Tonight’s guest, Abigail Carter, wrote a beautiful account of the complexity of mourning a death that was wrapped up in something as monolithic as 9/11. On her heels is Alissa Torres — a young widow much like Abigail, whose book, American Widow, was reviewed by the New York Times last week. A thanks to them for sharing their stories with all of us.
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