Social Grieving Becomming More Popular

February 17, 2014 Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 9:23 AM EDT

By Ed Reilly

February 17, 2014 Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 9:23 AM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) It is a sign of changing times as the digital age is altering how people grieve and offer comfort during the death of a loved one.

"So many people are scattered all over the place and no one is generally home anymore" said Diane Forster from North Tonawanda.

During the recent death of her father-in-law, Forster said she was amazed at how many online comments came from people that she had not heard from in years.

Social grieving allows people who are not able to attend a funeral to be part of the grieving process through emails and postings on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Most funeral homes also operate online websites that post obituaries and allow friends and family to share condolences and comments.

"Extended families are shrinking," comments John Dengler from Dengler, Roberts, Perna Funeral Homes.

"There's not as many people in a family anymore. People are left very lonely. So, technology can certainly help everybody in that regard."

Emailing and online posting is the most popular form of social grieving, but more families are now also uploading audio/video remembrances.

Technology is also changing prayer cards to include 'QR' codes that, when scanned by a smart phone, will link to a funeral website with obituary information, messages boards, and multimedia presentations.

Some funerals are also being broadcast over the internet so relatives and friends who were unable to attend can view the proceedings.

But the new technology does create some concerns, especially with the speed that death information can spread through Facebook and Twitter.

"I can't tell you how many times I've been with a family where they come in and say 'It's already on Facebook!' - and they are disgruntled by that," added Anthony Amigone, Jr. from Amigone Funeral Homes.

Social grieving also raises concerns about the posting of wrong information, either purposely or accidentally, as people bypass funeral homes to spread the news of a person's death.

"And trying to reverse that information flow can be very difficult," explained Anthony Amigone, Jr.

Some funeral directors are now pushing to form a non-profit group that would help set standards for online death postings and help oversee problems on the internet.

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