Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig on Mourning in the Digital Age

More and more, it seems the life well-lived will be preserved online. This is especially true in the world of ideas: Bloggers now openly consider academic texts that once would have remained confined to the university, allowing scholars to leave a much broader legacy. And in Facebook conversations and online comments sections, thinking happens in real-time. Taken together, these new, permanent, public memories leave us with more than the hard-copy facts of the past: Unlike the birth certificates, baptismal records, and diary entries of old, the vastness of online communication leaves behind a richly detailed, informal story of a life lived among others.

One of the greatest benefits of religion is the comfort it provides those of us left behind when a loved one passes on.

Could the web ever provide the same sort of comfort? Probably not, but as it evolves, it becomes more than a separate realm that we occasionally enter- it becomes a thread that runs through our reality, mirroring it, even.

As that happens—as we mold and shape the web to resemble our dreams and desires—it can surprise us with its capabilities.

Providing comfort in a time of loss is not out of the realm of possibility.

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