Participating in the research as a mourner

How is digital technology used in the wake of a loved one's death?

If you've lost a loved one and use digital technologies such as websites to mourn, remember, or feel connected with the person who has passed away, please consider sharing your story. Below is a brief description of what would be involved in participating in this research. You can choose to complete one, two, or all three components of the research described below.  Sign up to be contacted about participation.


Participation begins with an interview lasting between an hour and an hour and a half. If you live in or near Chicagoland, we can do the interview in person. Otherwise, we’ll be doing the interview using an online video call service such as Skype.

In the interview, we’ll be going over your online activities pertaining to the research. The exact content of the interview will be guided by your own experiences and reflections—there is no generic set of questions that every participant must answer. We want to hear about what’s important to you!

 Some questions you might be asked include: 

  • What are your motivations for using a particular site?
  • When did you start using the website?
  • Has your usage change over time? 
  • What kind of mood are you in when you are using the site?

You can choose not to answer any question for any reason, and you can end the interview at any time. 


After your interview, we’ll schedule a time to observe you as you use the web pages that we talked about. How long this part lasts will vary from person to person. We’d like to see you using the sites for however long and in whatever ways is typical for you. Afterwards, we may ask a few questions to clarify anything that we didn’t understand. 

Content analysis

We’d like your permission to spend some extra time studying the content of the websites that we saw you using. For example, if you were perusing the Facebook Wall of a loved one who has passed away, we’d like to take a closer look at what was on that Wall. Who was posting, and when? What did they say in their post? Who replied? How many people liked the post or reacted to it? Do the people posting seem to know each other? In some cases, examining this content will require accessing sensitive and password-protected information. We will work with you to figure out a way to do so that doesn’t compromise your privacy or security.