Facebook’s wall a consolation in death

People use social media for different purposes. The wall of Joseph McLellan’s Facebook is a touching tribute to the loving relationship between him and those family and friends who have survived him. Joseph McLellan, Archimandrite Joasaph, left this world too early for those who love him. And yet his Facebook wall is still a living noticeboard posted with regular notes to him.

I knew Fr Joasaph in my first year of marriage when I accompanied my husband to Jordanville, upstate New York, in his third year of seminary. He was a year ahead of my husband, and although I lived there for nine months only, Fr Joasaph clearly made an impression because my memories of him, his academic brilliance, his talents and wonderful sense of humour remain clear.

It was on Facebook that my husband and I were reunited with Fr Joasaph after a lengthy lapse in communication. At a time when I heard many people criticise those who ‘wasted their time’ on Facebook, we were enjoying the ease with which it allowed us easy communication with those who lived far from us.

In the short period of Facebook friendship, we learned that Joseph had decided to leave Princeton University where he had been teaching Russian and enter into monasticism, moving through the ranks of ordination quickly and being elevated to the rank of archimandrite. At the time we didn’t know of his illness and wondered what the rush was.

In December 2009 we joined many others in expressing our grief at his passing, and in expressing our condolences to his family.

And now his Facebook remains open. Family and friends continue to ‘talk to him’, to remember him, to console each other.

I open his Facebook page on and off to see how he continues to live through the comments of those who still love him. I hope it stays open forever.

4 thoughts on “Facebook’s wall a consolation in death”

  1. Facebook certainly creates unprecedented chances for surprising coincidences and reunions, and novel phenomena like these remembrance walls. I feel just like you about the ease of communication on Facebook, and how it makes it possible to find long lost friends again, for example. It’s only wasted time if you choose to waste your time there!

    Interestingly, just yesterday, our local paper wrote about the possible future of huge virtual cemeteries on Facebook when whole generations of users pass away. Apparently, it is possible, but a bit complicated for family members or friends to delete the Facebook account of a deceased person.

  2. What a lovely post Tania. People who criticise social media really need to be exposed to posts like this, so that they can understand that sites like these are fuelled by humanity.

    @Sinnika I’d never thought of the possibilities of Facebook becoming a virtual cemetery, but I suppose that is becoming reality even as we speak.

  3. Sinikka, that’s interesting, I didn’t think about that aspect – Facebook accounts of people who’ve died. I agree with you – we use the application the way we want, and wasting time comes from us.
    Jenny, it’s true, ‘fuelled by humanity’. Lovely catchphrase.

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