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A Facebook lesson for churches

More young people are going online to grieve in the company of friends.

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Where do young people go to grieve? These days, with more and more churches and temples closing, it's becoming less common to see people going to support groups at church.

After the typhoon in Indonesia, after the deaths of Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson, after school shootings, and in the wake of suicides, young people in mourning are now turning to social networking sites such as Facebook for support.

This raises the question: Are social networking sites a better spiritual partner than a church, mosque, or temple?

If you search for "In Memory of..." on Facebook more than 100,000 results pop up. Following Michael Jackson's death, more than 150,000 people commented on his Facebook wall. The Virginia Tech tragedy pulled millions of young people to the site.

I have taught bereavement courses for 10 years and recently one of my students shared that he could not talk to his parents about his friend who died in an auto accident because they would cry or immediately change the subject.

But he could visit the world's largest social media website any time of day or night to talk about how much he misses his friend and how helpless he feels.


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