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The Google stage of grief

March 20th, 2005 · 3 Comments

Laura at 11D wrote:

After the morning with the neurologist, Steve and I googled disorders and disabilities until late at night. This maniacal googling is a new stage of grief. After denial and before resignation, comes the google stage.

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described five stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Googling is indeed a new stage of grief. I’ve done it myself. I’ve sat at the computer, typing terms, moving the mouse, clicking, reading, calculating, crying. Have you?

danah boyd wrote Google is the perfect tool for the intermittent hypochondriac. The weight of a diagnosis or a death can create a compulsion to try to understand, to seek in the sea of Google knowledge for answers and explanations. Try a term, try another term, yet a third all to see what comes up in the net. Ask Jeeves. From my own experience, what I read on the Internet can help or hurt my situation, throw me on an unnecessary roller-coaster ride or confirm my fears.

So Googling may be added to the grief stages. How about blogging? Emailing? Done that too.

How will our relationships on the Internet, with each other and with information alter the way we grieve?

Tags: journal

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ryan // Mar 22, 2005 at 3:09 pm

    Aloha e Julie. Was just clicking links randomly at the Gnomedex site, and ended up getting sucked deep into your archives. This recent post really struck a nerve with me, though. I hit the Google stage when my son was diagnosed with a birth defect. I wrote about it online, as well as his surgery and subsequent recovery. The web helped me learn more, and also to share (and to self-administer psychotherapy, perhaps).

    But there was a huge dimension that didn’t hit home until a few weeks later, after Google swallowed my ramblings. I started getting e-mail from other parents, many of them sitting exactly where I was a few moons prior, hearing a long scary medical term for the first time and frantically looking for every scrap of information they could find. And they found my stories, and even though I didn’t teach them anything academically, they said it meant a lot to them to simply read the words of another parent, someone who’d been through it, and to follow my experiences as they happened. Our case might not have been typical, of course, but as a “datapoint” in the mountain information on the web, it was perhaps the most accessible, meaningful.

    Even today, two years later, I get a note now and then, someone finding my journal entries from back then for the first time. They tell me they appreciate my being insane enough to document my life online, and add that the photos of my son today, happy and thriving, brightened their scary new world, just a little.

    That connection is why I do it, and have since 1996. And why I still stumble into personal sites like yours and can lose a whole day, just soaking up another person’s life. Mahalo.

  • 2 Garrett Fitzgerald // Mar 24, 2005 at 9:27 pm

    ‘I was reading my morning paper, and saw that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of “On Death and Dying” had died.

    I couldn’t believe it. It made me so mad.

    I thought that I would give up my morning coffee if only it weren’t true, and I was so sad.

    But finally, I finished my coffee and went to work.’


  • 3 Garrett Fitzgerald // Mar 24, 2005 at 9:30 pm

    A friend died recently, and I’ve been Googling her, too. Unfortunately, the circle we moved in didn’t lend itself to online chatter….

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