“In Memory” is a powerful short documentary by 72U that tells the story of Plainwhite Tom Laconti, a gregarious dancer in Chicago, Illinois who took his own life on January 2, 2014. Laconti had announced his plans to commit suicide on Facebook just days before, sending out messages to those whom he loved the most. After Laconti’s death, his friends and family were able to connect through Facebook and other social media resources to share messages, videos, and pictures amongst each other, keeping his memory very much alive.
I’m up until 2, 3 o’clock in the morning on YouTube watching his videos, stuff like that, that’s pretty much how I grieve. That’s a good thing though, just being on there and actually seeing him because other people, you know, might not have family or friends that they can watch on video all the time. All they have are memories of things. I get to see him whenever I want.
Laconti dancing one month before his suicide:
While the story is mostly about Laconti, it also addresses the larger issue of how social media can help those who are left behind to form a community to share their memories of the person they lost in a far more tangible way than ever before.
The importance of community to the people who are left after a loved one has died is huge. Often what can happen is that bereavement, grief is done in isolation. Families have been given an incredible gift. They haven’t necessarily known who their son or daughter’s friends were, what their interests were, what their activities were. To start reading, especially on Facebook, some of the posts, seeing the images, seeing the pictures, has been, for the families I’ve spoken to, very, very gratifying. Facebook is allowing all of those friends of that person to grieve and to remember and be together.