Death on MSN

This morning, after my daughter and I woke up, we got ready for the day and went to our computers.

We do this everyday, check the messages before breakfast. It is just another bad habit we have. Since we work online, we need to know if any type of emergency happened overnight and needs our attention right away. Yes, it could wait until after breakfast, but we do it first.

Suddenly, she calls me to see something in her MSN instant messenger.

Beside the picture of one of her high school best friends was the phrase: Carol, deceased today – 12/21/2007

After the shock and knowing how close my daughter was to this girl during their high school years I could only think: My, is this the way to know about someone’s death? Through IM? How harsh! It did upset me quite a bit.

Shortly after that a flood of e-mails started. Other classmates asking: do you know so and so’s phone number? What about this person? Where is this person living now?

No one had anybody’s phone numbers.

They had their IM, gmail, orkut, MySpace profile, but no phone numbers.

My daughter and her friends went to an American school in another continent and today at 22, they are all scattered around the world working in a global marketplace.

As hard as it is to get the message of such tragedy through this media, the truth is, it was the fastest and most effective way to reach everybody. After all, it is instant.

And the internet is the one common place where her generation meets.

What is hard to grasp is the way and pace we have to adapt to such a form of communication when dealing with such a difficult topic.

Fact is, there is no easy or right way to communicate death, there is no easy way to receive this message either. On the other hand, it goes right to the point, no room to prepare a person for the message.

My daughter kept using the IM to communicate with her peers and get informed about the car accident that killed her friend.

I asked myself a hundred times: death through MSN? But I understand, it is just another media. A media we need to adapt to, understand and learn how to use.

Like the mother that in her darkest hour, this morning, had to turn on her daughter’s computer and change the message in her IM in order to reach Carol’s friends, and let them know what had happened with their friend.

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