I’ve been listening to GriefCast (https://www.acast.com/griefcast) to better understand how people experience grief and how technology has positively and/or negatively affect people at different points in their journey after the loss of a beloved one. Based on the first 11 episodes, here are my thoughts.
Losing someone feels like…
At various points during the episodes, host and comedian Cariad Lloyd describes losing someone like ‘you’ve had a couple of layers of skin ripped off’ or it’s like ‘you’ve had the table cloth pulled from underneath you’. People can become hyper sensitive for example the noise of a train can be overwhelming.
Just knowing I have it is enough
On occasions, guests have talked about the digital footprint of the person that’s died and how knowing it’s there is a comfort; ‘just knowing it’s there is sometimes enough’. However some people simply ‘can’t bare to read the messages yet, and the voice notes will be harder’.
Video might be harder to watch
Cariad’s Dad died before the birth of text and email, so the only digital content she holds is a Dictaphone recording that can’t really be played anymore because it’s so old. ‘I definitely didn’t listen to that dictaphone for a long time, you’re just dealing with such rawness and pain that it takes a while’. The family later found a video of Cariad’s dad when he was a child which seemed to upset her, ‘seeing the cinefilm, that was a real… having not seen him move for so long, a moving image, I did find it really… I think it did help that it was a person I didn't recognise, because he was 8. OK, it’s really upsetting but I don't really have a connection to that person’ (Episode 3, 38mins)
I could touch it!
Jon Harvey later comments on the qualities and comfort of letters and photographs ‘it’s tangible isn’t it, there’s something about old school technology’ (Episode 3, 38mins)
He was everywhere in the media, but not the person I remember
In Episode 11, Amy Hoggart talks about losing her dad who was a journalist ‘a weird experience for me is that Dad was a journalist… and he was very slightly in the public eye’ … ‘it was in the news the next day, and we were really sensitive to it but it felt like it was everywhere’ … ‘there were pictures of him and he used to be quite chubby and always laughing… suddenly we were given lots of images of him which were almost unrecognisable because that’s not who we’d been with for ages. And it was actually quite nice to see that no one else will know what it was like at the end.’… ‘There were some bits I found hard, like there was a piece on Radio 4 that I’d not known was going to be on - I did not like hearing his voice, other people don’t have to deal with that. And we were watching the news and there was TV footage of him, and that was horrible’ … ‘You have no control, unless you live in a bubble you’ll just hear them all the time.’
Amy goes on the explain the comfort of printed media that she saw around her father's death, ‘the print versions, I found comforting […] it felt like other people missed him, that felt special. I also liked that we didn’t have to tell anyone, everybody knew.’
Analogue vs Digital media
This episode (11) is really interesting in terms of technology and grief. Cariad talks about being an ‘analogue griever’ - her father died before the digital really hit off, ‘it’s much harder for me to dig out those pictures’ whereas for Amy ‘it’s just a click away so it’s really tempting, I think I’m more desensitised to it because it’s so available […] I do wonder about the even more digital age where people are on twitter etc […] I guess it keeps them present’.
Written by Helen