An appropriate time and place

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2016

At around 11 p.m. Saturday evening my dad called me. Usually these late night calls bring bad news and I was right.
Earlier that evening I read on the Sea Coast Echo’s website about the discovery of two bodies in a home in Bay St. Louis.
My dad told me that our family friend’s daughter was one of the victims and that her infant daughter had also been shot, but was expected to survive. By the time you read this, you may have already heard about the tragic events unfolding in my hometown.
It shook me to the core and I can’t begin to imagine the pain the family is experiencing right now. I pray that law enforcement officials apprehend the person or persons responsible.
Through social media, news of someone’s passing spreads like wildfire, even before the family has a chance to process the event or post their own announcement of the news to family and friends. In this particular instance, because of the manner in which the people died, the story will be featured on many news outlets for weeks to come.
A few years ago, on my birthday, I was alerted via a public Facebook post from a non-family member that one of my beloved uncles had died. My mom had yet to tell me, because she said she “didn’t want to ruin my special day.” And I don’t blame her one bit for the manner in which I was told. When she was my age, there was no Facebook and an almost instant memorializing of loved ones.
Almost immediately after my dad’s phone call on Saturday, my Facebook feed was inundated with memorials dedicated to the female victim, before the police had released any names to the media and prior to the family mentioning anything.
I do not think any of these people meant any harm, they were simply expressing their grief. Sudden death, especially murder, is a difficult thing to deal with. The family was probably still processing the news and mere hours after the discovery, her beautiful picture could be seen in many a Facebook post.
It’s sad that social media is the new way to find out about someone’s death. In the past, it was a frantic phone call in the middle of the night or waiting to see whose name appeared in the newspaper’s obituary section.
While I don’t see anything wrong with sending condolences and remembering a life via social media, I just think there should be a better time and place for it. I feel people should let the family absorb the shock or announce the news themselves or via a close friend.
Being bombarded with phone calls and messages immediately after may contribute added stress to an already stressful situation.
I ask that you keep this special family in your prayers. Her 6-month-old daughter is recovering from a bullet wound to the shoulder. It’s such a tragedy and I hope that justice will be served.

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