Date of Conferral
Counselor Education and Supervision
As the world's largest social networking site, Facebook, continues to grow in popularity, it is imperative for counselors and counselor educators to better understand how online environments impact all facets of life, including death. Grief behaviors on Facebook have been a focus of scholars since the launch of the social networking site in 2004. Researchers have demonstrated that Facebook memorial pages have a significant impact on the social and cultural practices related to death and memorialization for Facebook users. However, despite a rapid rise in research related to online mourning, researchers have yet been able to establish the potential risk or benefit of engaging in online memorial pages and continuing bonds with the deceased. The purpose of this study was to increase understanding of the relationship between participation in Facebook memorial pages and grief symptom severity and persistence for adults living in the United States who have experienced the death loss of a friend or family member since 2009. The continuing bonds theory was used to guide the foundation of this study and interpret findings. Using online survey methods, data was collected from 225 Facebook users. Results of a multiple regression revealed no relationship between Facebook memorial page participation and grief severity but demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between Facebook memorial page participation and grief persistence. These findings are crucial to aiding social change related to an expansion of counselor awareness of the cultural implications of online mourning and the influence virtual mourning may have on appropriate diagnosis of grief related disorders.