Walter, T., Hourizi, R., Moncur, W. and Pitsillides, S. (2011). Does the internet change how we die and mourn? An overview. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 64(4): 275-302.
full text (pdf)
Very interesting overview of recent research. Here’s the abstract:
The article outlines the issues that the internet presents to death studies. Part 1 describes a range of online practices that may affect dying, the funeral, grief and memorialisation, inheritance and archaeology; it also summarises the kinds of research that have been done in these fields. Part 2 argues that these new online practices have implications for, and may be illuminated by, key concepts in death studies: the sequestration (or separation from everyday life) of death and dying, disenfranchisement of grief, private grief, social death, illness and grief narratives, continuing bonds with the dead, and the presence of the dead in society. In particular, social network sites can bring dying and grieving out of both the private and public realms and into the everyday life of social networks beyond the immediate family, and provide an audience for once private communications with the dead.