Today’s blog is not about writing, unless you want to file it under distractions a writer encounters.
Without warning or even a considerate heads-up, people outside of my family keep posting photos of my Dad on Facebook and it is a shock to my system whenever I am unexpectedly confronted by his face. I’ve grown to expect commemorative posts on his birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, or on the anniversary of his death, but not outside of that. He didn’t have a Facebook— in fact, he hated social media. This didn’t prevent a memorial Facebook account being made days after his death by someone outside the immediate family. My first response was “he would hate this.” The irony.
But any regular day, while I drink my morning coffee or log on to Facebook before I get to writing, I scroll along and BAM- full impact of my Dad’s face is thrown into view. Years have gone by, yet my heart stops. I feel the pain of loss that never gets old, I smell his cologne, I see his gold watch wrapped around his wrist in that jarring photo and my first thought is how hard his hand felt when I touched it in his coffin.
These seemingly harmless posts have impact, and often not the intended one.
I am grateful that my Dad touched so many lives with the contributions he gave during his time on Earth, I truly am. He was one of those individuals you don’t forget. I’m not saying this as his daughter, I’ve spoken to many people who met him once and the impact of that meeting left a lasting memory. Strangers were drawn to him in many cultures around the world, he could strike up a conversation with anyone. Heck, he went for a taxi ride in Fiji one time and ended the night being adopted into a Fijian tribe. He was that person.
It’s just a lot to wrap your head around when the unexpected, especially the kind associated with pain and loss, hits you. Some well meaning person loads his image, intending to honor him, gladdened at the memory of him. I love that. But what I see in that photo is his broad chest that makes me feel the absence of his bear hugs. I see my mother’s carefree face sitting next to him before sudden grief was thrown in her heart and can tell how different her eyes look now. I can picture the goofy face Dad likely made following that snapshot, tongue stuck out to the side and eyes crossed while pushing his nose up snout-like.
The barrage of memories one photo contains can wield pain as easily as joy for those who mourn. Individuals casually posting pictures can’t guarantee which emotion will be conjured. There is responsibility in these imprudent actions done out of carelessness or, at best, ignorance. My intention is not to discredit their level of feeling for the deceased, but they should stop and ask themselves how well they knew the person. How will posting affect the immediate family?
When uploading photos of the dead, the dead that don’t belong to you, think twice.