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Texting a deceased loved one “softens the harsh reality” says psychologist

While before it may have been listening to an old answer phone message, now this modern coping mechanism is a new comfort for the bereaved

Have you ever sent a text to a deceased loved one?
Have you ever sent a text to a deceased loved one?

Losing someone close to us can be extremely difficult – and many of us have different ways of coping with the grief.

It’s important to note that everyone copes with grief in different ways, and there is no real right or wrong in the grieving process.

With digital reminders of your loved one on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, things can get really tough.

Although there are ways to turn off the profiles, you may still miss their online presence and knowing that they are a short message away for a quick chat.

Reopening old text messages are bound to bring up many emotions, but what about those who continue to text their loved one?

It’s now a common coping mechanism, and experts say it can actually be useful for those to deal with the transition.

When considering why many people do this to cope with their loss, psychologist Ingrid Collins said: “When a loved one dies, we find it hard to adjust immediately to the fact that they are no longer physically with us.

“In the first stages of grief, we tend to become emotionally numb as a result of the trauma of bereavement, often finding it difficult to accept that they are really gone.”


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It is in this phase that many find it comforting to ease adjustment to a loss by continuing on a conversation.

Ingrid continued: “Be it imaginary, as some believe, or communicating with the lingering soul of the loved one, as others believe.

“Either way, it is a way of softening the harsh reality of never being in their physical presence again.”



While some may think it odd or unhealthy texting a dead love one can be an effective coping strategy
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Image:

Jon Cartwright/Getty)




As a culture, it’s no doubt that we are taught to cope well with bereavement, with a “stiff upper lip” approach for many.

To some, that may signify that the individual may not be coping well at all, and bottling up any emotions from others.

When talking about text messaging loved ones that have passed away, Ingrid said: “Any method that enables us to prolong the comfort of the relationship with the deceased or, if the bond was challenging, to go some way to resolving the relationship, is to be welcomed.

“Sometimes people cling on to their loved one’s physical possessions that serve as a reminder.

“This is one way of adjusting. Some take up a campaign in order to bring some meaning to what might otherwise appear to be a random or supposedly preventable death.”

In short, those who choose to communicate with a deceased person are “taking an effective shortcut to arriving at some measure of acceptance.”


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