Saturday, December 17, 2011

A lifetime....

A lot has changed in two years.....

For those of you not in the "know," Facebook has launched a new design called "timeline." It chronicles all of your online activity since you first joined Facebook, including all of your status updates, photos, pages "liked," friends gained (and lost), etc. It is a snapshot of a life really -- we put so much of ourselves online these days, that it is an almost surreal look at one's life, moment by moment, and thought by thought.

I know my widow friends are going to have mixed reactions to this feature. I started to go through mine yesterday, and am editing posts and adding stories and events to fill in the blanks of my life. It is hard, at times, and like so many things in widowhood, it is bittersweet. This past year has been filled with happy things -- it started off with my 1 year sadiversary, but was filled with so many good times with my new sweetie and I got engaged and remarried at the end of it.

But the timeline works backwards through your life..... so as I work back I return to a time that seems more like a lifetime ago, and not just two years. It is so hard to believe that I haven't seen or heard Mike for almost two years..... how does this happen? But he lives on in Facebook.

I don't know if the designers at Facebook thought about these things when they started to create this feature, but I am sure for anyone who has lost someone during their time as a Facebook user, that they will have mixed reactions to it. It can, and has, brought back a lot of memories, and emotions, and even a kick or two from the grief monster as I scroll down. Despite this, and I know it probably seems weird, but I am almost grateful to have this technology -- something that may seem like it is overly invasive of our private lives, also serves as this.... time capsule. Preserved are the moments we shared, moments that are now just memories in my head, they live on in cyberspace. If I just scroll back far enough, there he is, still alive, still there to offer a cheeky comment on my picture or status update, still there a part of my life.

I am approaching the two year mark in just over a month -- and am currently getting ready to go back to WI.... the last Christmas I had there was with Mike in late 2009, but this year will be with my new husband. This is a time when nostalgia and memories naturally come to the forefront, but being able to look back so graphically has made the loss feel so very real to me again. After all, I can't reminisce about what we were doing "this time last year" like I did last year.... the added time has made the realness of him fade a little bit in my mind.

The other thing that this does, is remind us of other things and people lost along the way -- many widowed people I know, myself included, lost a lot of other people as a result of the death of their spouse. Grief does a funny thing to people, and some people can't or won't deal with it, some people need to blame someone and the surviving spouse becomes an easy target, and others simply can't deal with us, or grow tired of us long before we've worked through our grief. But Facebook has not forgotten that there was once a time when there were more people in my life..... if I go back far enough in my timeline those friends also return. It's almost like you can scroll all the way to the bottom and pretend that life is still how it used to be.....

But you can't live down at the bottom of the screen forever. I still have a lot more status updates to keep adding, funny quotes to share, pictures to post, and life events to add. So I say "good-bye" to my past for now-- knowing that I can go back to look and reminisce when I want to. As hard as it is sometimes, it also is a comfort to know that I can so easily access these memories. I guess the makers of Facebook know that sometimes our brains forget things, forget people, forget moments, so they thought they would help us to hold on..... and for me, and others who have lost loved ones, this is a very special thing to have -- a link to our past. So thank you Facebook, you may be controversial in your decisions sometimes, but this time you got it exactly right.


  1. This might shed some light on the Timeline design by Facebook's UI designers.

  2. Thanks for the link, Anthoula... I do think sometimes the creators at FB don't take users emotional connections into account when making changes, but it does seem like they did this time around. I know some of my friends hate the changes, and don't like being forced to look ath their past... but given that for me I have had a lot of time and healing between my now and my past, I find more of these memories to be a comfort, rather than just a sad reminder.