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How Do You Grieve For An Online Friend?

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When we first “met” online 8 years ago, her name was CourtReporter.  We were both moderators on a deals/contesting forum and instantly struck up a friendship initially based on our shared love of coupons and freebies. Our first chats consisted of private messages back and forth, but quickly evolved to weekly hour-long chats on the phone, where Kim and I would laugh ourselves silly about whatever online experiences we had that week, share our mutual excitement about what we had recently received in the mail, and generally just spend time getting to know each other better.

It was during one of those telephone conversations that I announced to Kim that I had won a trip to the Dominican Republic.  Kim had dabbled in a little bit of contesting but it was not yet the passion for her that it was about to become.  She wanted to know everything – which contest was it, how many entries I filled out, how long I had been entering the contest (it was an ongoing one), etc.  I could sense from her enthusiasm for my win that here was a serious contester in the making.

We enjoyed this long-distance friendship by internet and phone for a couple of years until we decided enough was enough.  It was time to meet IRL (in real life)!  So we got busy organizing a get-together in Toronto with a few other online friends we knew from this same forum.  Even though Kim lived in Toronto, she decided that she wanted to have a “girls’ night out” with me when I came to town.  She got busy looking in to booking a hotel room we could share for the night.  To say we had fun that night would be an understatement.  Kim enjoyed her “girls’ night out” to the full extent and left me with some memories I will never forget.  She was both a fun…and a funny…woman.

Kim was the third person I had met online that I was lucky enough to meet IRL.  Kim was every bit the same person in real life as she was online.  There were no surprises. From the moment we connected for the first time at Union Station in Toronto, it was like I had connected with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. We started talking and laughing, and didn’t stop until I had to leave to go home the next day.

That was the only time I ever met Kim in real life…and the last time I ever will.

My friend Kim passed away tonight after a long battle with cancer.  That awful beast had finally caught up with her.

Since our girls’ night out in Toronto a few years ago, we had slowly grown apart.  Not because we weren’t still friends (we were), but because my online interests started to take me away from the world of contesting that Kim had become heavily involved in.  Thanks to social media sites like Facebook, Kim and I still kept in touch from time to time.  Sometimes it was a quick note from Kim asking me to vote for her in some contest she had just entered, and sometimes it was either one of us stopping by online to say a quick hello and check in with one another.  Sometimes it was a note full of extreme excitement when Kim would write to tell me that she had just won a trip, like the trip she won to Las Vegas.

The last time I heard from Kim was exactly 3 months ago.  How do I know this?  I know this because Kim contacted me on Facebook to ask my opinion on bread machine makers (and thanks to Facebook, I still have this note).   She was going to buy herself one and wanted to know my opinion about the one I owned. I shared my opinion with her, we had a few laughs, she told me about some recent contest wins, and I asked her how her health was and how she was feeling.  In her typical strong, upbeat style, she told me she was doing better, she had just gotten out of hospital, and she was busy getting back to some online contesting.

And so tonight, I lost one of the very first friends I ever made online.  I really don’t know how to feel. When you lose a friend with whom you spend a lot of time with IRL, you are part of the whole grieving process.  A part of their “inner circle”.  Perhaps you know their family and other friends personally, and live close enough to be able to attend their funeral.  But for an online friend, like me,  who may live hours away in another city, the grieving process can seem so strange.  While you feel like you knew your online friend well, there is a good chance that their “real” friends and family may never have heard of you.  Do you reach out to them with your condolences?  How do you process your thoughts, and how you feel about what has happened?

I never knew I would feel like this after losing an online friend.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  Tonight the “love” side of Facebook is weighing a little heavier. It is because of Facebook that I found out about Kim’s passing.  It’s also because of Facebook that I got to see just how much Kim meant to her many online friends.  It’s obvious she made a real difference to many people in her online life. I know she made a difference to me…in many ways.

For now, I am embracing Facebook.  Facebook is helping me grieve.  It’s on Facebook where I would keep in touch with Kim, and it’s on Facebook where I have been able to leave a message of condolence on her page in the hopes that her family read it.  Facebook has allowed me to connect with other mutual long-time online friends of Kim and I again.  Chatting with these online friends,  and sharing our memories of Kim, is comforting. With them, there is an true understanding of how it feels to lose an online friend.

How ironic that this was the last message I received from Kim on Facebook.  She was asking me to vote for her in an online contest:

“One more request and I swear I will leave you alone for the rest of this year.”

RIP my friend Kim.  You will be deeply missed.

Have you ever lost one of your online friends?  How did you grieve?


  1. May 2, 2014


    WOW Sandy!! I read this post when you first posted it and had no idea that the Kim you were referring to was the Kim that I also knew 🙁 It just dawned on me now. I only heard the news two days after your post was posted.

    Kim was one of the first few people to add me on Facebook and help me learn the ropes in the contesting/sweepstakes world when I first started entering. It seems a lot of people knew her and met her the same way 🙂

    Even though we never met in person, I still considered her to be a close friend as we chatted online on a daily basis. Feeling blessed that I had to chance to know the amazing, kind-hearted woman she was, even if it was only through a computer…. I will never forget all the laughs and the tears we shared. The only consolation is that her fight is now over and her pain is gone…

    RIP Kim.. You’ve touched a lot of lives and will continue to do so. <3

    • May 2, 2014


      I’m so happy you stopped by to comment, Tasha! I had NO idea you knew Kim so well (online). I’m very sorry for your loss as well. Sounds like you two had become good friends. Just like you’ve said, Kim was always so quick to help fellow contesters out by voting for them, spreading the word, or helping newbies “learn the ropes”. That’s why she had a big impact – bigger than she will ever know. Glad you share some good laughs with her….she was good fun and could always get me laughing. Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your memories of Kim, Tasha XO.

  2. April 30, 2014


    My condolences Sandy. I can totally understand how you feel. You get acquainted with people when you talk to them or type with them and they become a part of your life! I feel like I have a pretty good friendship with you and the many other people I’ve never met IRL and I would definitely grieve if I couldn’t chat with you guys anymore. Some people just make you feel comfortable being yourself and whether you’ve met them or not it’s perfectly fine to grieve for them! ♥♡♥

    • April 30, 2014


      It’s true, eh Jason! I’ve come to enjoy our little chats and your thoughtful tweets so much – I’d definitely miss you if you weren’t around. You are a special online friend to me…and to many out there, I know it. You’re right, some people just make you feel comfortable being yourself..and you are one of them 🙂 Thanks for your friendship, Jason, and for stopping by to comment! XO

  3. April 28, 2014

    Angie@Echoes of Laughter

    So very sorry for your loss Sandy! I have never lost an online friend, but I think that it would hurt just as much as losing someone IRL.Clearly, you had a wonderful connection of friendship between you and that is something that is very real despite not being close enough to see each IRL. I think Kim would be so touched that you are thinking of her and remembering her! I think that reaching out would be wonderful. A lot of funeral home have online condolence books and I often leave heartfelt messages there for the family to read and I try to share a happy memory or thought about their loved one. I know that messages like that can really be comforting to people . Thinking of you! Angie xo

    • April 30, 2014


      Angie, thank you so much for stopping by and for your very kind words. They mean a lot. I think Kim would appreciate it…and I think she would be floored by all the people she touched online. You’re right, the funeral home website is a great idea. In the meantime, I was able to reach out to her son, which I was happy about. Thanks again, Angie…you are one of special online friends too! XO

  4. April 28, 2014


    I’m soooooo sorry for your loss Sandy!! 🙁 I have so many online friends and lots of them are even closer to me than my non-online friends. I find it easier to be completely open with them. Thinking of you!

    • April 29, 2014


      I think many of us feel that way too, Christine. I find it easier to be open too. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment…I really appreciate it XO.

  5. April 28, 2014

    Heather Atton Cook

    We can mourn and feel loss whenever we are connected to someone, the loss is no less valid or real because the friendship was mostly online. So sorry for your loss.

    • April 28, 2014


      So true, Heather! I’ve definitely come to learn that…not only with my online friendships like Kim’s, but also in all the comments left in this thread. All my online friends are amazing 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by to comment, Heather XO

  6. April 28, 2014


    This is very sad. I have chatted with Kim before. My online friends are as close as my in real life friends, if not more. I have mourned a few. Some not because they passed away but they just disappeared. No trace, no word. It is hard. Online there is no good bye , no closure. Often the family doe snot think to inform you . I think like any time we lose a friend, we just remember them the best we can. Sorry for you loss. Hugs

    • April 28, 2014


      I thought you may have known Kim, Gingermommy. So well said…online there is often no goodbye, no closure when someone just disappears. In cases like that, it often makes me wonder if they passed away, or did they just tire of the “online experience” and move on. I’m sorry this has happened to you too. You’re right, often the family doesn’t think to inform you. We are just left to “hang” at times like that. Makes me feel lucky that at least I know what happened to Kim and that I had still been in touch with her fairly recently. Thanks for stopping by to comment, I appreciate it..and the hugs! XO

  7. April 28, 2014


    Oh Sandy, I am so very sorry for your loss. Like someone said above, a friend is a friend no matter where they are or how you met.

    Through blogging I have “met” many great friends and it would be so hard to lose them.

    Sending you a big hug.

    • April 28, 2014


      Thank you Brandy, that means a lot. You are one of the sweetest people I know from online. Your words always make me smile. Thanks for the hug and for stopping by to comment 🙂

  8. April 28, 2014


    So sorry to hear about your loss. Friendships are friendships whether you see the person everyday or not. (Hugs)

    • April 28, 2014


      Thanks so much, Alyssa 🙂 You are so right. I know you totally understand this. Appreciate you stopping by to comment XO

  9. April 28, 2014


    I’m very sorry for your loss Sandy. You bring about some questions I have no answer for. On one hand it bothers me that deaths are announced on social media, but on the other, I too have made close friendships this way, and without social medial I would not know about someone’s passing.

    • April 28, 2014


      I very much agree with you, Catherine! On one hand, finding out on Facebook seems so impersonal, yet these days, sometimes that is the only way you find out (like I did). Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by to comment XO

  10. April 27, 2014

    Matthew Tully

    I do offer you my sympathy as I truly believe you can develop as strong or sometimes stronger of a relationship with someone online as IRL. I say this as people tend to not hold back and say what they really are feeling online as they don’t have the face to face embarrassment or friction. I have developed many friendly relationships online since facebook came about, but more recently since I started blogging. I think that you have to be comfortable in anything you do, if that means offering your condolences to Kim’s friends by all means do it. If it means maybe visiting the website of the funeral homes website to write something that will be passed to the family from there than I commend that as well. Whatever you choose to do, is because it is in your comfort zone. Again, I am sorry for your loss as it sounds as though she was a lovely person.

    • April 28, 2014


      Such lovely, well thought out words, Matthew. Thank you! I know you very much understand the strong friendships one can develop online, and you are so right. I never thought of things the way you have stated, that people don’t tend to hold back online. I would have to agree. Love your advice about contacting family/leaving online condolences with the funeral home. I actually managed to contact her son, and I’m glad I did. He responded privately AND in the comments here. That meant a lot to me 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to comment, Matthew (one of my fave online friends!).

  11. April 27, 2014

    kathy downey

    I am so very sorry for your loss Sandy.

    • April 27, 2014


      So very kind of you to stop by and share your kind words, Kathy. Thanks so very much XO. It means a lot.

  12. April 27, 2014

    Tammy @inRdream

    I am so sorry Sandy to read this. I have made some deep connections on-line. Actually I think my on-line friends are more in touch with me. Sending you HUGS!

    • April 27, 2014


      Thank you so very much, Tammy 🙂 You said it…our online friends are so in-touch with us, often more so than those IRL. Appreciate the hugs and that you stopped by to read and comment XO.

  13. April 27, 2014


    So very sorry for your loss Sandy.
    You touch so many online and IRL with your gift of friendship. Treasure your memories together.
    Hugs xoxo

    • April 27, 2014


      Lola <3 Those are some special words - thank you! I'm so glad we are still special friends after all these years. Hugs back! XO

  14. April 27, 2014


    Thank you so much, Sandy.

    • April 27, 2014


      Awww Mike 🙂 Thank you for stopping by. My heart goes out to you. Take care XO

  15. April 27, 2014

    Maria Medeiros

    I’m so sorry to hear your news. It’s very hard to loose a friend. Whether they are on line or not, friends are friends. I met my friend Cherl 7 years ago and I lost her to cancer as well about two three years ago. All we can do is remember them and what you shared together. Pray for them and write beautiful blog posts like this in memorium. My thoughts and prayers are with you and her family and friends. Cancer is truly horrible. My mother and aunt passed away from cancer. Sending you big hugs.

    • April 27, 2014


      So well said, Maria, whether online or not, friends are friends. I’m so sorry to hear you lost a good friend too 🙁 Thank you so much for your kinds words about my post. It just came pouring out of me last night and felt good to write it. Big hugs to you as well for the loss of your mother and aunt. I cannot even imagine what that must have been like for you (and still is). Thanks for stopping by to comment XO

  16. April 27, 2014


    So sorry to hear of the loss of a friend. Hugs xox

    • April 27, 2014


      Awwww, thanks so much, Shannon. I don’t think I need to say it but, I hope you know I consider you one my online besties 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to comment XO

  17. April 27, 2014


    Hi! I’m sorry for the loss of your friend last night. Whether in person or online, a friend is a friend. I am happy she brought joy to your life for the time she was in your life. She seems like she was a fabulous person to know.

    • April 27, 2014


      Thank you so much, Lian!! Kim was a great person and I’ll always be glad we got to meet IRL. Speaking of which, I’m so glad I finally got to meet you IRL too 🙂 You are every bit as sweet and nice in person, and you are online. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment, Lian XO

  18. April 27, 2014


    I am very sorry for your loss. I have some very dear friends I have never met IRL and I would be devastated to lose them.

    I am glad FB is helping.


    • April 27, 2014


      Thank you so much, Peady 🙂 Sounds like you can very much relate to having some great online friendships. Be sure to take the time to tell them how much they mean to you when you can. I wish I had sent one last note to Kim. Thanks for the hugs and for stopping by to comment. I very much appreciate it, Peady! XO

  19. April 27, 2014

    Joce Lyne

    i just want to say i am so sorry for your loss…
    i have never experienced anything like it, but it brings to mind my Mom’s online friend…about ten yrs ago, my mom began chatting with a lady…i can’t remember where they met…maybe a game site…like scrabble or something…anyways, my mom chatted with this lady and they connected, kind of like you and your friend…and i think they chatted on the phone a few times…well, almost nine yrs ago, my mom suffered a stroke and passed away…just like that, no warning…she was never was very difficult to go through…but afterwards i remember thinking i wish i could get in touch with this lady…to let her know…but i couldnt remember her name…it makes me sooo sad that that lady is sitting somewhere not even knowing why my mom disappeared like that…
    so in my opinion, i think u should reach out to her family…who knows, her sister or mother might know about u and it would give them comfort talking to u about her..and it might give u closure…
    but that’s just my opinion…i don’t know how it is to go through what u are going through…
    i have made some online friends as well and i cannot imagine how i would feel if i lost any of them!!

    • April 27, 2014


      Joce Lyne, thank you SO much for your wonderful comment. It means a lot that you shared this with me 🙂 I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom, and how shocking that must have been for you. Like you, I would wonder about this online friend of hers and what she thought after suddenly not hearing from her. I have a feeling she likely assumed the worst (I would if a friendship stopped that suddenly). Thanks for your advice. I think I will reach out at least to Kim’s son. I had the pleasure of meeting him once and he is a great young man. Kim raised a good son. Thanks again for your comment, it means a lot that you took the time to write, Joce Lyne. XO

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