Death is a universal human experience, as natural to our lives as birth, sleep, and hunger. Everyone dies at the end of their lives, and unless their own death is premature, everyone loses someone they love to death. A number of psychological states can be elicited by the death of a loved one, including sadness, anger, confusion, and fear (Field, Gao, Paderna, 2005; Leming & Dickinson, 2011). The process of working through these emotions, and the rituals and practices surrounding death, burial, and mourning, although strongly influenced by culture, age, life experience, religious beliefs, and attachment style, are unique to each individual (Brubaker, Hayes, & Dourish, 2013; Leming & Dickinson, 2011; Stroebe, Schut, & Boerner, 2010). The Internet in general, and social network sites (SNSs) in particular, are both products and drivers of culture and therefore can have a profound effect on the grieving process of their users (Brubaker, Hayes, & Dourish, 2013). Two phenomena are of particular interest regarding this exchange: intersubjectivity in the development of online personalities and the practice of displaying for public attention the private feelings of the dying and bereaved (Brubaker, Hayes, & Dourish, 2013; Brubaker & Vertesi, 2010; Stroebe, Schut, & Boerner, 2010; Field, Gao, & Paderna, 2005).
Death represents a total disruption of human attachment bonds. These bonds develop primarily in childhood and center around proximity maintenance (the attachment figure is always near or readily accessible), safe haven (the attachment figure is available for reassurance and safety during times of stress), and secure base (the attachment figure is available for support when seeking novelty and facing the unknown). Parental attachment b...
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