Editorial: Facebook memorial tributes needed

By Kim Gillespie

It's perilous to comment on the grieving process unless you're going through it yourself, heaven forbid, but it is both terribly sad and incredibly fascinating to watch what's going on in the wake of the death of teenager Hayden Miles.

A man has been charged with murdering the Christchurch 15-year-old on August 22, and police have since recovered his remains from a cemetery near where he was last seen.

Hayden's mates have set up a Facebook page to post tributes in memory of their friend, but his mother has taken offence to it and asked that it be taken down.

They said "no, they were his friends too and had a right to write messages for him" and the exchange became heated as others joined in.

It's a sorry development in a sad story that Hayden's friends and family are arguing amidst their grief.

It's hard to imagine now a world without Facebook (even though we were living in that world just a few years ago), where young people didn't necessarily have this public outlet for their emotions when faced with tragedy.

The nature of online tributes is such that those paying respects feel like they're talking to their friend as much as sharing memories with others. Hayden Miles' friend was reported as saying: "We have a right to have pages where we can write messages for Hayden."

And the outpouring of grief in this manner can only be seen as healthy and welcome, as opposed to bottling it up or venting through antisocial behaviour.

We can all only hope that we're never in a position to be mourning a friend taken before their time, but should that be the case some of us would very much appreciate the opportunity to pay our tribute in such a public, and at the same time personal, way.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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