Grief and Technology

Grief and Technology: How to Use Tech for Grieving

When the life of a loved one comes to an end, the world becomes a little colder, a little darker. All that they ever were is gone forever, except for the memories, stories, and mementos we keep. As we consider the enormity of the loss, it’s hard to fathom all the ways in which our lives will be affected. There will be no new memories, conversations, or visits. All that we can count on to connect us to our departed loved ones lives in the past. Any gaps in our loved ones' stories will remain a mystery. Even though our hearts have been shattered, we must find a way to pick up the pieces, process our grief, and move forward as best we can. Today, innovative technology is trying to soften grief’s blow and connect us to our departed loved ones in ways only dreamed about in science fiction.

How is Technology Changing the Way We Grieve?

Collecting the memories and stories of our cherished loved ones helps us to feel closer to them. As we grieve, we cling to these memories for comfort. For thousands of years, oral tradition has been the preferred medium for passing knowledge, ideas, and stories from one generation to the next. The unique stories of our own ancestors and family members are at the mercy of memory. In some cases, we have personal journals and even memoirs to help corroborate information. More recently, people have embraced audio and video recording technology to capture the stories of loved ones in their own words.

But what if you could converse with your loved one anytime you want from beyond the grave? In the artificial intelligence (AI) age, we’ve entered a new frontier where our departed loved ones can now return as digital replicas. The bereaved no longer have to rely on one-sided conversations from audio/video recordings. Through innovative apps, grief-stricken individuals can now have a dialogue with a departed loved one’s AI counterpart any time they want, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year!

What is Grief Tech?

Grief tech is any technology that helps people cope with grief and loss. Several versions, such as chatbots, virtual reality (VR) experiences, and even digital replicas of lost loved ones, are available. No matter which type of technology is utilized, they all have the same primary goal: to connect you to a digital version of your departed loved one. Depending on the application, grief tech enables the bereaved to phone, text, or video chat with an avatar of the departed.

How to Use Technology for Dealing with Grief

One of the burdens the bereaved have when encountering loss is that they can no longer talk to the departed again. Whether a childhood memory, a joke, or a favorite saying, it would be so meaningful and soothing to converse with a lost loved one and learn a little more about them. Some AI applications can create a digital replica to emulate the unique nuances of the departed. Digital replicas allow the bereaved to have an interactive experience. With grief tech, people can take control of their digital lives by uploading personal stories, photos, and videos for loved ones to access one day. Automated interviewers can help get the ball rolling by asking unique questions about your life, such as “What is your earliest childhood memory?” You can also upload significant photos and explain what makes them so important. The bereaved can simply ask the application a question, and the departed’s avatar will answer. With digital holograms and conversational AI, the bereaved can feel like they’re really talking to their lost loved one. In times of darkness, grief tech can offer support and comfort.

Is Grief Technology Good?

Grief technology can be a slippery slope. On one hand, it can be a wonderful support system for those struggling with grief. After all, interacting with a loved one’s avatar can trick the mind into thinking the moment is real. Depending on the information recorded, the bereaved can learn about the unique details of the departed’s life. Sometimes, things that were too difficult to talk about in life may have a better chance of coming to light via a digital replica. However, becoming fixated on an avatar can stifle the grief process. By clinging to the past, grief-stricken individuals may have a difficult time accepting the loss and processing the feelings that come along with it. Facing our feelings is the only way to process our grief healthily. While AI may produce an uncanny doppelganger for your departed loved one, it’s important to recognize that it isn’t real; it’s only a computer. AI can never replace the person you knew and loved. Life is precious, and our time on this earth is finite. It’s essential that we honor the quality time we have with one another and make the most of the here and now; it’s a gift, which is why it’s called the present!

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