"I believe that Facebook and the Internet generally are making it much easier for people to mourn and deal with their grief," Vicary said. "People can feel less alone by seeing that others are feeling the same way, or they can continue their bond with a deceased loved one by leaving messages for him or her."
Although Vicary's study data didn't establish long-term positive or negative effects of Facebook mourning and similar activities, a majority of participants self-reported a comforting effect, even if momentary.
"Overall, it's safe to say that Facebook isn't hurting people who are grieving, and may very well be helping them," Vicary told Discovery News.
In fact, online grieving might be even more psychologically soothing than other mourning practices, such as reading an obituary or visiting a gravesite, according to a clinical psychology study from Antioch University, New England, completed in May.
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For her dissertation, "Technology of Grief," Antioch PhD candidate Jordan C. Fearon surveyed 68 people about their use of Facebook memorial groups and found that 59 percent of this group considered them "more helpful than other than other traditional death rituals." In addition, 98.5 percent of participants would recommend creating or joining a memorial group to help cope with grief.