Her name was Mary Eve Minieka and she was an artist. Recently a friend of mine, also an artist, sent me an email telling me the unexpected news of Mary’s death. We had both served on a civic board with her and knew Mary as a quiet, gentle soul and a serious artist.
My friend did not know how or when Mary died, so I pulled up her Facebook page on my laptop. There I found an outpouring of postings from those who loved her and those she had loved. By the hour, her friends were adding comments and photos covering the span of Mary’s life from elementary school to her career and artwork, and world travels.
In this collective outpouring of digital grief, her loved ones shared feelings and sought solace. On her cyberspace platform, there were photos shared of her painting, running marathons, and photos that revealed her remarkable beauty. There were postings relaying Mary’s impressive credentials, and relaying cherished memories of the times of her life. Through this emerging and loving remembrance I learned so much more of who Mary was as a woman and as a dedicated artist. Combined, the comments and tributes formed a beautiful mosaic of her life on her Facebook page. An evolving cyber-memorial had been created, affirming and celebrating Mary’s life.
It’s remarkable how our web-selves can carry on in cyberspace after we are gone. In sharing our collective digital grief of a loved one, we create an online memorial — an honorarium of a cyber-afterlife, immortal and ephemeral, lingers on as a digital place to visit, to pause, reflect, and remember.
This brings new meaning to the often-read poem by Henry Scott Holland:
“Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are…”