BEHS 380 Future Trends and Facing Mortality
BEHS 380 Future Trends and Facing Mortality
Change is an inevitable universality across time that affects various aspects of life including death, dying, and bereavement. Technological advancement has played a significant role in this change which is expected to further progress into the future. This possibility was particularly supported by the onset and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 containment measures caused societal disruptions in the routine activities surrounding death and bereavement such as religious or cultural mourning practices, funeral arrangements, and physical social support (Stroebe et al., 2020). The requirements to minimize social interactions resulted in limited attendance at funerals which result in social isolation and loneliness among the bereaved. This made the grieving process more challenging. Where possible, remote attendance through various technological approaches was utilized.
The technological evolution of death and mourning rituals is not a new concept. Studies have revealed a notable transition of death and mourning practices from physical settings to virtual spaces (Hamid et al., 2022). This promotes the possibility of integration of virtual reality in the grieving process which has been hindered by factors such as limited clinical hypotheses and specific guidelines, lack of information or evaluation for possible unintended psychological risks and harms, and lack of supporting sound scientific research evidence (Pizzoli et al., 2021). The integration of virtual reality interventions in conventional therapies for dealing with grief can be tailored from the existing successful application of the same other fields such as in the management of anxiety disorders.
Virtual reality interventions can foster closeness between the bereaved and the deceased. This will enable the bereaved to process and express loss-related emotions and memories thus facilitating peaceful closure as well as adequate coping with and acceptance of the permanent loss of a loved one (Pizzoli et al., 2021). This will require targeted strategies to ensure the safety of virtual reality interventions in that no psychological harm or other adverse effects befall the users. Such measures can include continuous user monitoring and additional targeted studies to assess the suitability, safety, and effectiveness of the interventions.
Certain technological resources are already in place to aid in grieving and mourning. These include active memorial websites, interactive virtual support groups, online counseling and psychotherapy, and appropriate online information on how to deal with grief and loss (Westerlund et al., 2018). Social media influence can also motivate bereaved individuals to grieve and offer benefits such as bonds and support from other users including those with similar predicaments (King et al., 2022). Individuals from the global audience can share beneficial grieving information and virtually share and express their thoughts and feelings throughout the stages of grief.
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Other perceived benefits of online grieving exist in addition to the support from the global online community. This includes the availability of invisibility and anonymity of users which enable individuals to easily express personal information and sensitive matters such as loss (Spiti et al., 2022). The result is an adequate acknowledgment of one’s situation and the validation of intense emotional experiences. This technological aspect of death, grief, and bereavement should be explored further to maximize the potential benefits. Arising moral and ethical dilemmas should be countered appropriately.
Hamid, W., Jahangir, M. S., Khan, T. A., & Maqbool, T. (2022). Role of technology in restructuring the traditional practices around death and mourning in Kashmir. Death Studies, 46(4), 832–841. https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2019.1701146
King, R., & Carter, P. (2022). Exploring young millennials’ motivations for grieving death through social media. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science, 7(4), 567–577. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-022-00275-1
Pizzoli, S. F., Monzani, D., Vergani, L., Sanchini, V., & Mazzocco, K. (2021). From virtual to real healing: A critical overview of the therapeutic use of virtual reality to cope with mourning. Current Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-02158-9
Spiti, J. M., Davies, E., McLeish, P., & Kelly, J. (2022). How social media data are being used to research the experience of mourning: A scoping review. Plos One, 17(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0271034
Stroebe, M., & Schut, H. (2020). Bereavement in times of covid-19: A review and theoretical framework. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 82(3), 500–522. https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222820966928
Westerlund, M. U. (2018). The usage of digital resources by Swedish suicide bereaved in their grief work: A survey study. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 81(2), 272–297. https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222818765807