Dying, Death, and Grief in an Online Universe: For Counselors and Educators

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Paul Gilbert, FBPsS, Carla Sofka, PhD, Kathleen Gilbert, PhD, CFLE, FT, Illene Noppe Cupit, PhD
Springer Publishing Company, Feb 9, 2012 - Family & Relationships - 290 pages
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"[This book] is an excellent resource for the diverse practitioners and educators who are involved in this nascent area."--Cruse Bereavement Care

"[This] book is innovative and timely, challengingthe reader to think 'out of the box.' Sofka,Cupit, and Gilbert provide a framework to explore thanatologyin an online universe while encouraging continuousresearch to adapt to this ever-changing digital world."--Death Studies

"Historically we have always employed our foremost technology in the service of the dead. We have used whatever we had at our disposal to mourn, to support, to share memories and to tell stories. Carla J. Sofka, Illene Noppe Cupit, and Kathleen R. GilbertÍ reaffirm that principle reminding us that this new digital world both offers dramatic technologies and creates considerable opportunities to deal with dying, death, and grief. The editors are extraordinarily sensitive to the multiple ways that this new technology has impacted upon the death system or the ways that a society organizes behavior around dying and death. Dying, Death, and Grief in an Online Universe is bound to be a classic."

Kenneth J Doka, PhD
Professor, The College of New Rochelle
Senior Consultant, The Hospice Foundation of America

Modern communication technology has profoundly influenced societal practices and views about dying, death, and loss. This text, written for death educators, clinicians, researchers, and students of thanatology, provides current information about "thanatechnology," the communication technology used in providing death education, grief counseling, and thantology research.

The book offers a broad overview of how the communication technology revolution affects individuals coping with end-of-life issues, death-related and non-death loss and grief, and implications of the "digital divide" between those who are knowledgeable about and have access to modern technology, and those who are not. It describes the proliferation of online support groups and social network sites to cope with loss, and mechanisms for the memorialization and commemoration of loss. It also highlights blogging as a mechanism for storytelling and SKYPE as a communication tool during times of loss and grief. The unique issue of disenfranchised grief experienced by online community members is also explored along with ethical issues. Appendices provide guidance regarding the online availability of different types of informational support, tools to evaluate the integrity of online resources, and ethical standards.

Key Features:

  • Examines the ways in which modern communication technology has revolutionized societal practices and views about dying, death, and loss
  • Offers time-tested strategies for providing death education online
  • Addresses ethical issues related to availability and use of technology
  • Explores the implications of the "digital divide" between technology and non-technology users in relation to issues of death and loss
  • Analyzes how technology has shaped and changed thanatology research


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Part I The Communication Technology Revolution and Implications for Thanatology
Part II Building Online Communities of Support
Part III Sharing and Gathering Knowledge in Cyberspace
Responsibly Looking Forward
Evaluating Resources
Appendix B Resources to Assist With Ethical Issues in Online Service Provision

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About the author (2012)

Carla J. Sofka, PhD, is Associate Professor of Social Work, Sienna College, Loudonville, NY. Her previous positions include Assistant Professorships in the field of thanatology at the Institute of Life and Death Education and Counseling, Taipei, Taiwan, Skidmore College, and Washington University. Dr. Sofka has published in Journal of Mental Health Counseling, Generations, Death Studies, and The Journal of Personal and Interpersonal Loss. She has contributed chapters to numerous thanatology texts and is a frequent presenter during the ADEC conferences including her most recent (2009) panel discussion with Drs. Worden, Doka, and Hoy (luminaries in the field). She is a director of the Baccalaureate Social Work Program, a member of the ADEC and NYS Social Work Education Association, and Associate Editor of Death Studies.

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