Thunder Bay·Audio

Sharing life and death online:Thunder Bay group looks at role of social media

Living, and dying, online is the theme of a public discussion Tuesday night in Thunder Bay, which centres on the way death is talked about, and shared on social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Volunteer organization Hospice Northwest presents 'Die-alogues' sessions to help people talk about death

Hospice Northwest is a non-profit organization which trains volunteer to support individuals who are dying, and their families in Thunder Bay, and the surrounding region. (hospicenorthwest.ca)
Hospice Northwwest is holding a special public discussion on "Death and Social Media". Kathy Kortes-Miller is leading it. 5:38

Living, and dying, online is the theme of a public discussion Tuesday night in Thunder Bay, which centres on the way death is talked about, and shared on social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

"Our use of social media has really exploded over the last few years, and has really become part of our day-to-day form of communication, and as a population we really need to hone our skills around how we communicate about dying and death, not only verbally, but also how we do that on social media," said Kathy Kortes-Miller, the guest speaker and the past chair of Hospice Northwest. 

The non-profit - based in Thunder Bay but also serving several communities outside the city - has over 200 trained volunteers, who offer support to individuals who are dying, and their families.

Kathy Kortes-Miller is the past chair of the Hospice Northwest board of directors, and the guest speaker at the Die-alogues event on death and social media. (Kathy Kortes-Miller)

"We've moved away from being death-denying to being more death-ignorant," said Kortes-Miller, explaining that people aren't sure how to initiate the discussion around death and dying, or what is considered acceptable on social media.

She cited the public reaction to several media personalities who tweeted about the death of people who were close to them

'Don't talk about that kind of stuff on Twitter'

"Some people thought it was a wonderful opportunity to hear and learn more about it, and other people were like 'Whoa, you don't talk about that kind of stuff on twitter'." 

Hospice Northwest originated the "Die-alogues" sessions as a way to promote the "conversation about dying and death" and to offer education on the issue, said Kortes-Miller.

The public event begins at 7 p.m. at the Slovak Legion in Thunder Bay with Cathy Alex, of CBC in Thunder Bay, as the evening' s host.