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Digital Mourning – Grief In The Online Age

I have talked a lot on my blog and on Facebook about how the digital world has changed our relationship and concept of memoir. With each national disaster, we turn to Facebook, Twitter and other online websites to find out what happened, then understand the impact and finally to share our upsets and grief. We mourn publicly in a way we couldn’t have imagined only 10 years ago.

Grief in a Digital Age

Jessica’s Story

For Jessica Ghawi’s friends and family, their digital grieving began on the 20th of July, 2012. One of the 12 victims of the Aurora Shooting in Colorado, Ghawi tweeted her excitement to a friend about going to watch ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ at the midnight screening. 30 minutes later Jessica was killed after suffering gunshots to the leg and head.

A month before the Batman Massacre, the aspiring sportscaster survived a separate shooting at the Eaton Center in Toronto. She blogged about the event and the ‘empty, almost sickening feeling’ it left in her chest. That blog post and the last few tweets she sent out before her death have been viewed by thousands globally. Her wit, her insights and her personality are captured digitally and preserved for friends, family and well-wishers who have never met Ghawi.

Online Outpouring after Jessica’s Death

In honour of her memory, people used the hashtag #RIPJessica to memorialise her death on Twitter.

After her death, Ghawi’s followers banded together and #RIPJessica trended, a fitting tribute as Ghawi was an active and engaged Twitter user. Her brother, Jordan Ghawi, blogged about the moments after her death and the establishment of an Official Jessica Redfield Sports Journalism Scholarship Fund in her name.


“The outpouring of support for my family is overwhelming. Hearing from people from all over the world. My family thanks you. Let us continue to focus on the victims.” Jordan Ghawi


Her friend and fellow sports-writer, Jesse Spector, wrote a tribute to her on He lamented the loss of a friend that, while their relationship occurred mostly in a digital space, was very dear to him.


“It was pure silliness, sharply sarcastic and made me smile. Only now, her shout of “MOVIE DOESN’T START FOR 20 MINUTES” is just haunting.” Jesse Spector

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