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Mourning Practices on the Internet

Researchers Involved

Prof. Dr. Christa Dürscheid

Dr. Karina Frick

Dr. Christina Siever

research areas

Communicative practices
Media use
Social Media
Social relations


2021 - 2024

Mourning Practices on the Internet

The project deals with verbal and multimodal grief practices on the Internet by analysing digital memorial sites and cemeteries, social media platforms and mass media from a linguistic perspective.

The project investigates how people digitally express their grief on the Internet, how they verbalize expressions of condolence after the loss of a loved one or a tragic event, and how the public discourse about these grief practices is shaped. In order to investigate these questions, two corpora are being built: The first of which consists of systematically and automatically collected digital data from different web sources and therefore contains genuine written (text-based) and multimodal (pictorial, acoustic) data. The second corpus contains automatically collected media reports about online grief practices as discursive supplements. In terms of analysing the two corpora, data driven approaches (such as frequency lists, keyword analyses or collocations) will be applied in a first step in order to detect important thematic contexts and patterns. In a second step, qualitative methods (e.g. hermeneutic and ethnographic approaches) will be used to examine the pre-filtered data in a more detailed way. This approach allows us to capture the dynamics of community building online and to investigate the impact of digital condolence and mourning practices on the grief discourse in general. In addition, the provided data and the analytical procedure allow us to contribute to the ongoing debate about the dimensions of the private and the public on the Internet and, as a consequence thereof, the handling of sensitive data: Individual (but often heavily stereotyped) grief as a formerly private topic is widely shared with strangers, pictures of the deceased are published, personal stories of suffering are made accessible. These actions have an impact on the general understanding of privacy which is a highly relevant contemporary political topic.



Due to digitalization, new forms of public valediction and remembrance beyond culturally or religiously coined norms arise and have an impact on how individuals express their grief or verbalize expressions of condolence after the loss of a loved one or after a tragic event.

Research Questions

Research Questions

  • Which public grief practices exist on the Internet and what are the resulting verbal and multimodal (pictoral, acoustic) forms of the concept ‘grief’ on the internet?
  • What religious references can be found in the data and how is compassion for the suffering of others expressed?
  • How do digital grief practices impact the social grief discourse on the one hand and the relationship between public and private on the other hand?
Project Aim

Project Aim

The project aims to systematically capture new digital grief practices and their impact on the social grief discourse.

The project is part of the University Research Priority Program (URPP) “Digital Religion(s) – Communication, Interaction and Transformation in the Digital Society”. Explore more.