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What Happens When Your Social Media BFF Dies

What Happens When Your Social Media BFF Dies

What Happens When Your Social Media BFF Dies

I didn’t know her very well, at least not “in real life.” She started following me four years ago; her first comment on the post that caused her to follow me read, “Omg, you are living my dream! following you now so I can live vicariously through you.”

I was surprised and flattered. I don’t have a huge social media presence, and my content is as basic and general as they come; thirty to sixty-second videos highlighting the many phases of my life as a single empty nester, nestled between pictures of my home, which reflects an ever-changing and inquisitive mind — nothing at all groundbreaking. Yet, it seems to attract some of the kindest most empathetic women on the internet.

Throughout the years, she became my biggest cheerleader. She was one of the first people to comment on my posts and IG stories. She provided valuable and sometimes hilarious input on my journey through perimenopause, sharing stories told to her by elders in her family.

We became internet friends; she affectionately referred to me as her internet sister — “You’re my big sister in my head,” she would say.

And like a big sister, I looked forward to reading her comments, words of encouragement, and memes she would send via DM. I would check on her when she would go “black” or off the net for a long time.

Her page was private, with only two hundred or so followers; when I requested to follow her she warned me that I wouldn’t see much, “I don’t post much on here; I am more a spectator than a creator. The most you will find on my page are pictures of my parents and Coco.” Coco, her toy poodle, was the tiniest poodle I had ever seen.

While we were fourteen years apart, at thirty-four, she called herself an old soul, something she attributes to being the child of parents who waited until much later in life to have children. And, like me, she was the oldest of three children and grew up caring for her siblings (twin boys), as if they were her own.

We shared stories about the many ups and downs of being the oldest child, especially when you’re a girl child. And, the role our zodiac signs play in our immediate connection; she was an Aries, and I am a Leo.

She promised that the first chance she got to travel overseas, she hoped to meet me at one of my favorite cafes to talk all things New York City and living life on your terms.

Lydia admired my ability to take what she considered unimaginable risks that challenge the status quo and refute unrealistic expectations put on women of a certain age, race, weight, and background.

Her words of encouragement and support fueled my desire to contribute to the conversation of finding your “why”, outside of societal expectations and childhood trauma.

Two weeks ago, while scrolling through Instagram, a picture of her and Coco popped up on my feed, I smiled as that was the first time in the four years that we’ve been chatting that I got to see a picture of her with Coco, in what seems to be a birthday celebration.

Below the picture was the caption, “It is with deep sorrow that we share…” My heart stopped, I read the caption a second and third time in complete disbelief. How could this be?, I thought. She was only thirty-four. Was she sick? How did she die? Is this a joke?

Several days later I learned that Lydia died in her sleep due to complications of chronic seizure disorder. Her last DM to me was the hug emoji under an Instagram story I posted with a song by Cher titled “Hope You Find It.”

Their absence resonates in the silence of unopened messages, but their influence endures in the shared moments, emojis, and virtual laughter etched within the virtual landscape of our hearts.

As I write this blog post my cellphone is opened to a view of Lydia’s Instagram feed, it is almost unimaginable and painful to believe that moving forward I will no longer read her comments under my posts, receive funny memes from her, or receive messages from her sharing yet another “creative discussion” between her nana and grandad bickering about the smallest inconvenience.

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and connect with others. It has blurred geographical boundaries, allowing us to form relationships with individuals across the globe. These connections, though mediated by technology, can be just as meaningful and impactful as those formed in person.

Virtual friendships can provide a sense of belonging, companionship, and support. They can offer a platform for sharing experiences, ideas, and emotions, creating a sense of community and shared understanding.

In some cases, these relationships may even be more intimate and transparent than those in the physical world, as individuals feel more comfortable expressing themselves without the fear of judgment or social repercussions.

As users of the internet, no matter how big or small a following, whether posting for business or pleasure, each post, interaction, and discourse has the ability to change minds, solidify belief systems, and provide those consuming our content the opportunity to see life’s ups and downs through lenses that may not be available or thought about in their immediate circle.

In honor of Lydia, I would like to share tips that I am using to process her sudden passing, as I know that is how she would want me to honor our friendship, by doing what drew her to my corner of the internet.

What Happens When Your Social Media BFF Dies?Navigating the Grief Process

Processing the loss of a virtual friend can be challenging, as the traditional grieving rituals and support systems may not fully resonate with the nature of the relationship. However, it is important to acknowledge and validate feelings of grief as you would the loss of a person you knew in “real life”.

What Happens When Your Social Media BFF Dies

Acknowledge Your Feelings:

Allow yourself to recognize and accept the emotions you’re experiencing. Grief for a social media friend is valid and can be profound, despite the lack of physical connection. Don’t suppress your emotions. Let yourself feel the sadness, anger, or confusion that arise from the loss. Denying these feelings will only prolong the grieving process.

Reflect on the Relationship:

Take time to reflect on the bond you shared, the conversations, and the moments of connection. Acknowledge the positive impact they had on your life, regardless of the medium through which you interacted. Honor their life and the unique bond you shared.

Reach Out to Mutual Connections:

If appropriate, connect with other mutual friends or followers who share the same connection with your social media friend. Sharing memories or supporting each other can be comforting during this time. Talking about your grief can help you process your emotions and feel less alone.

Respect Their Online Presence:

Respect the digital footprint of your friend. Avoid deleting conversations or unfollowing their profiles immediately, as these digital traces might serve as a source of comfort or remembrance for you and others.

Create a Tribute or Memorial:

Consider creating a tribute post or sharing a heartfelt message honoring your friend’s memory. This could be on your own social media platform or within a community where you both interacted.

Seek Support from Loved Ones:

Lean on friends, family, or trusted individuals for support. Talking about your feelings and memories can help in processing your grief and celebrating the life of your social media friend.

Practice Self-Care:

Engage in self-care activities that help you cope with the loss. This might include meditation, journaling, exercise, or any activity that brings you comfort.

Honor Their Legacy:

Consider supporting causes or initiatives that were important to your social media friend. Donating to charities or participating in activities that they were passionate about can be a meaningful way to honor their legacy.

Take a Break from Social Media:

If needed, take a break from social media to process your emotions without the reminders of your friend’s absence. Take time away to grieve and heal in a way that feels comfortable for you.

Accept the Uniqueness of Your Grief:

Understand that grieving for a social media friend you never met may be met with different reactions from others. Allow yourself to navigate your emotions without feeling judged or invalidated.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary:

If you find yourself struggling to cope with the loss, consider seeking support from a grief counselor or therapist who can assist you in navigating your emotions.

Losing a social media friend you never met can be a complex and emotional experience. The grieving process is a natural response to the emotional connection and support received from these digital friendships. Grieving is a testament to the depth and impact of our digital connections, highlighting the significance of these relationships in our lives, regardless of physical proximity.

It’s essential to honor their memory in a way that feels meaningful to you while allowing yourself space to grieve and heal from the loss, regardless of the nature of your connection. Everyone grieves differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to navigate this process.

What Happens When Your Social Media BFF Dies

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