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Conference explores how we grieve in a digital world

The fourth Death Online Research Network conference, which takes place at the University of Hull from 15-17 August, explores how the ways we share our grief for our loved ones is changing. The opportunities a digital culture brings include live-streaming of funerals, online counselling, social media accounts as memorials or legacies as well as providing a valuable support network for friends and family, and a platform for maintaining the virtual presence of the deceased.

Dr Jo Bell, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Work at the University of Hull and organiser of the conference, said:

“We live our lives increasingly online so it is a fairly natural development that many people choose to remember, celebrate and stay connected to their loved ones in a digital way.

“It is fairly widespread that those who have lost a close family member might post a treasured photo to remember and pay tribute on a special day like a birthday. While this doesn’t suit everyone – many people gain a lot of support from their social network by sharing in this way. Celebrities are also often mourned in a collective way online.”

“We are delighted to host this conference which is such an important forum for new ideas and research. At the University of Hull, we are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of communities – both regional and further afield.”

Professor Julie Jomeen, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University

This year the conference is delighted to welcome two keynote speakers: Psychologist and author Dr Elaine Kasket will present on her forthcoming book “All the Ghosts in the Machine”. Professor Charles Ess of the University of Oslo in Norway will address the ethical dimensions, challenges and potentials of death online research.

Valuable insights will also be shared on the ethical challenges of studying death online, digital afterlife – the way people can continue to have an online presence even after death, technological developments relating to funeral provision and mourning, as well as the pressures that relatives face when dealing with the emails and social media accounts that remain after death.

The conference, which will also include a special workshop for postgraduate students and early career researchers, will showcase new and ongoing research that will be considered for inclusion in an academic journal and for an open-access online platform.

For further information, please contact Dr Jo Bell The registration fee of £125 (£75 for students) includes lunch, morning and afternoon refreshments for 3 days and a conference dinner on 16/8/2018.

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