Texting deceased loved ones is comforting coping mechanism, psychologist says

One of the hardest parts of losing someone close to us is trying to move on and live life as normal. Coping with grief can be extremely difficult, and everyone has a different method of how they process that pain.

Due to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, you may be constantly reminded of someone you lost every time you log in, which further complicates things.

While some people opt for turning off their loved one's social media accounts entirely, many still want the profile around to act as a memorial for the deceased.

While some try to process their grief by reading old conversations they've shared on text messages or social media, many even continue to text the deceased long after they've passed.

It’s now a common coping mechanism, and experts say it can actually be useful for those to deal with the transition.

When considering why many people do this to cope with their loss, psychologist Ingrid Collins said: “When a loved one dies, we find it hard to adjust immediately to the fact that they are no longer physically with us.

“In the first stages of grief, we tend to become emotionally numb as a result of the trauma of bereavement, often finding it difficult to accept that they are really gone.”

It is in this phase that many find it comforting to ease adjustment to a loss by continuing on a conversation.

Ingrid continued: “Be it imaginary, as some believe, or communicating with the lingering soul of the loved one, as others believe.

“Either way, it is a way of softening the harsh reality of never being in their physical presence again."

As a culture, it’s no doubt that we are taught to cope well with bereavement, with a “stiff upper lip” approach for many.

To some, that may signify that the individual may not be coping well at all, and bottling up any emotions from others.

When talking about text messaging loved ones that have passed away, Ingrid said: “Any method that enables us to prolong the comfort of the relationship with the deceased or, if the bond was challenging, to go some way to resolving the relationship, is to be welcomed.

“Sometimes people cling on to their loved one’s physical possessions that serve as a reminder.

“This is one way of adjusting. Some take up a campaign in order to bring some meaning to what might otherwise appear to be a random or supposedly preventable death.”

In short, those who choose to communicate with a deceased person are “taking an effective shortcut to arriving at some measure of acceptance.”

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