Grieving: From the tombstone to tablet - More of us using technology to grieve. We are sharing sorrows on Facebook, obituaries sent through twitter posts, even QR code chips attached to tombstones.
Erik Vaiksnoras knows how difficult it is to cope with death. In 2004, his 27-year-old wife, Julie, died from cardiac arrest.
After Julie's death, Erik wasn't ready to talk publicly about Julie or their son, David. But Erik knew he had to create a way to keep Julie's spirit alive. So he puts his thoughts in cyberspace.
He says, "I can't think of a better way to reach so many people. It's just incredibly accessible.
Erik designed a website, began a blog and even wrote an electronic book not only to honor the love of his life, but to help others handle death. But these new mourning rituals are forcing funeral home owners like Anthony Ripepi to reinvent an industry that's slow to change
Ripepi says, "There may be some criticism from a generation that doesn't understand this."
According to the Pew Research Center, half of Americans own smartphones, making it easy to "virtually attend" funerals.
As Ripepi helps families select coffins for burial, he cautiously offers digital packages starting at $49. And while he knows he needs to be cutting edge, Ripepi also realizes he needs to walk a fine line without being offensive.
Ripepi says, "How people grieve and memorialize an individual that has passed is very personal. It's one of those things that protocol doesn't say it's acceptable to do this and not this because everyone is unique."
Etiquette expert Colleen Harding says as this new grieving culture emerges, many may retreat to a world of "only" online condolences.
Hardy says, "If you live in the vicinity of the service or the funeral home where the wake is being conducted, you need to attend, in support of the family.
Erik agrees, but says the social media world offered him a warm embrace during the darkest days of his grief.
He says, "The comments just blow me away. They've been amazing. And just so many heart-felt moving incredible things." Memories he hopes will become a memorial of life, rather than a sad farewell.
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