It’s different now, watching other people find out the news that someone they know has died. It’s not just a phone call or visit to those you are closest to, the tangible grief in their eyes or voice as they take in what has happened. Now you can almost map the trail of sorrow as the news spreads across to people you are connected with in different ways. You can see when it hits those who tweet a simple expression of disbelief, ‘no’. You can see it when someone presses enter on a heartbroken Facebook status.
Remembrance of those who have left is not just looking at photographs or letters. It no longer means opening boxes and holding memories in your hands. It’s looking back through his twitter account. It's almost crying when you read his tweet about being excited for the Wet Hot American Summer TV show, and knowing he died before it came out. It’s feeling guilty that you didn’t reply to his last tweet about something silly you both liked. He still follows you, and you follow him, and that feels bizarre. It makes it feel like he is still out there somewhere.
Now memories are the Gchat messages and DMs from lost loved ones you didn’t think were important, but will save forever. It's opening a Facebook group where they were a moderator, their face and words still at the top of the page in a pinned post. It’s watching as people leave messages on the walls of people who will never read them. It’s getting notifications that they have been tagged in new photos, and it’s forgetting for a moment. It’s their faces popping up constantly as more and more people move to share their anguish.
Having a community of people out there to help hold your pain and to offer support can’t completely replace the catharsis of being in someone’s arms as you discuss your loss through tears. It’s different, but it’s still important. It’s still feeling solidarity. It’s important to know that you can lean on people, even if they can’t be there to actually physically take your weight. The last couple of weeks have made me so grateful for all the avenues of expression and support we have for outpouring of grief. And it’s made me so grateful to have known the kind of people who inspire such an outpouring.