Bioethics Blogs

Offering Condolence in the Modern Era

As social media has surged
in our society, how we interact with people has shifted.  Some of us spend
more time texting and emailing than talking to a human face.  This may be
especially true for those who have an office job.  We as a society have
expressed concern about the possible health effects from increased screen
exposure, such as the impact computer screens have on vision and memory.  We also have expressed concern
about how screen exposure will affect childhood development, particularly
social interactions. So what affect has this increased screen exposure caused
on how we console another for the loss of a loved one?

Consoling is a skill that
clinical ethicists learn quickly as many consults is related to end-of-life
issues. It is as simple as offering a tissue for a grieving family member but
more than simply saying “I am sorry for your loss.”  It is an ability to
read another human’s grief.  Consoling is arguably a fundamental component
to our society as loss is a natural part of the human process.  Consoling
is a way of experiencing the grieving process and accepting loss.

A recent New York Times article gave us some
advice on how to console those who have experienced death.  The article
gave seven points of advice, one of which was “Facebook is not enough.” 
It made the point that a message or post via Facebook is a great first gesture
but that one should follow up with something more such as a condolence card or
attending the funeral.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.