Twitter: Live from the deathbed

We tweet about births, weddings, first days of school, anniversaries, illness, and mundane things like what we had for dinner last night.

One area that seems to send shock waves and launches a thousand Mashable articles is tweeting about someone dying.

Last summer, NPR’s Scott Simon tweeted live from his mother’s bedside. And the world watched and mourned right along side him. Right now, Laurie Kilmartin, a comic from the show, Last Comic Standing, is tweeting from her dying father’s bedside. He has lung cancer and is in the care of hospice. Her tweets are funny, heartbreaking, raw, and frankly, really, really real.

Many wonder where the line is and if it has been crossed. Are we sharing too much on social media? Death is so personal, private and should be done quietly and not broadcast for the world to witness.

I actually don’t agree. I think mourning and death are so hard in our culture because no one sees it happen. We go off to a hospital and die hooked up to machines and tubes. Not so long ago, when generations lived together, people died at home and young people witnessed it. It was something we gathered around. Waiting for last words, just being together.

Death is seen as a failure of a doctor, or a medical team. Or the patient. We all “battle” and “fight” and when we die, we’ve “lost the fight.”

Our words matter. They are important. And people who die haven’t lost a fight. They’ve done what we are all going to do … die. The one thing we all forget: death is inevitable. It is going to happen to everyone. So, I say we reconsider our language, use death as an opportunity to celebrate someone, support one another, and use social media as a tool to help with the grieving process.

Kristi Bruno works in social media for a medical specialty society.  She blogs at Beyond the Beeps and can be reached on Twitter @kristibruno.

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