Opinion and Editorial

‘I honour the legacy my mom left for me’

Mark Nituma
Filed on April 10, 2021

My social network sort of immortalises my cherished memory of her, especially on Facebook, which automatically reminds you to take a walk down memory lane or a "look back" year after year.

My social media account serves as a virtual memory wall of all the milestones I’ve achieved as well as my most prized memories in life — be they things that evoke a feeling of happiness, sadness, or regret. And that includes the life my mom had lived before her passing more than 10 years ago. My social network sort of immortalises my cherished memory of her, especially on Facebook, which automatically reminds you to take a walk down memory lane or a “look back” year after year.

Honouring the legacy my mom left for me — and in me — is the thought behind my posts, but it also leads to a lot of conversations with her friends or just individuals who had a personal encounter with her from way back. Sometimes, it also stimulates a connection with random people (not necessarily my “friends” online) who share the same feeling of grief or whose parents lost their battle against cancer.

It probably does help me, and others as well, to deal with loss through our Facebook posts. Grief is a universal feeling, and expressing it through an outlet like social media is no different from pouring your feelings out before your friends and family, as a way of honouring your lost loved ones.

My social network has been a virtual reminder for me of a lost sweet soul whose memory lives on, even in this virtual kind of a world that we now live in.

I get instant comfort from people who connect with me when I post about the feeling of grief that I still feel for the passing of my mom a decade ago.

Again, it stimulates conversations with people who knew her when she was still alive. It’s like writing in a diary, confiding all your feelings to a medium. But in this virtual medium, you don’t repress your emotion or keep it just between you and a piece of paper. It becomes an open diary, an open forum online among your friends and relatives that may serve as a reminder for others to make their own parents feel loved and important while they’re still alive.

The responses I get to my posts are mostly from my mother’s friends and relatives; there are comments often from my friends and colleagues as well. Their responses matter because they give me warmth.

Sometimes, these comments also have words of wisdom on how to deal with loss and pain, and I do appreciate those a lot.

My account on social media is always on “private” mode, and I maintain that privacy by carefully selecting/accepting “friend” requests from people whom I truly know at a personal level. And I also only post about important milestones/events in my life, which means that my posts are not too frequent and, therefore, no one sees it as oversharing.

If I see a friend or a relative who’s also grieving on social media, I wouldn’t think twice about expressing my support and condolences — a well-thought-out message of comfort goes a long way, especially these days when we’re separated by the pandemic. Our digital sympathy might be fleeting and less personal, but that does not make a message of sympathy less meaningful.

However, what I often observe is that people do post online about someone else’s death, even if the family of the deceased has not yet posted or does not want to post about it. That, to me, is downright disrespectful.

Netizens must always remember that it’s one unwritten rule not to make something public if the family wants to keep the matter private.

(Mark is a media professional based in the Philippines)

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