Getty, E., Cobb, J., Gabeler, M., Nelson, C., Weng, E., & Hancock, J.T. (2011). I said your name in an empty room: grieving and continuing bonds on Facebook. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2011), 997-1000. [Acceptance rate: 26%]
In response to the death of a close friend or relative, bereaved individuals can use technology as part of the grieving process. We present a study that analyzes the messages of the friends and family of the deceased to their Facebook profile before and after their passing. Our analysis reveals that mourners use profiles as a way to maintain a continuing bond with the deceased, as well as a way to accomplish specific front stage bereavement communication, such as sharing memories, expressing sorrow and providing social support. These observations may improve the design of social networking technologies so that they remain useful, sensitive tools for the bereaved.