Seeking Solace Through a Virtual Memorial
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Seeking Solace Through a Virtual Memorial


virtual memorial(This post was originally published in June 2014.)

You know how, when someone dies, their Internet presence remains creepily intact? I’m thinking of all those Facebook pages, LinkedIn accounts, Twitter sites, et al., of regular people who suddenly, well, disappeared (as dead folks tend to do). Despite their passing, their Internet footprint lives on; remaining family and friends may choose to leave their deceased loved ones’ social-media avenues untouched, a sort of makeshift shrine to the dead. They’re then used as places where folks can pop in, pay their respects, share their memories and explore their thoughts following a loss.

An Official Virtual Resting Spot

The website—long a welcoming online haven for addicts, drug aficionados, and other deviant types—has a dedicated section for folks to post words and photos about their deceased loved ones. The difference between the site’s “shrine” and all the other makeshift memorials that pepper the mighty Interwebs? The fact that Bluelight’s only commemorates people who’ve died as a result of drugs or alcohol in some way.

Bluelight is an established hub for info and resources about addiction, drug use, and harm reduction—it aims to be a non-judgmental space where die-hard addicts bump up against occasional users. The site gives people practical information on drug safety, etiquette, rituals, and more, while maintaining a non-preachy vibe.

For some folks, the site can serve as a therapeutic tool, a place to chronicle and process their demons with other people who have been there and back.

Not Candy Coating Death From Addiction

The site’s memorial thread, dubbed “Post Pics Of Those Who Died From Drugs,” is, as you might expect, quite a bit sadder and darker than the rest of the site. Some memorials are just a few words; others are longer, more painfully detailed: “Everything about her death (especially being set on fire) is the worse way for her to die. She was typically used by guys, and they didn’t give a shit about her. This is how she died, alone and used.”

And suicide, of course, looms large there. The section hasn’t been updated since 2013, but reading back through the thread (all 40-something pages of it) paints an eerie, sad, and vivid picture of addiction and loss; so many of the people described there were so young when they left us. Take a peek at it if you feel like being moved (and potentially reminded about why you stopped or want to stop doing drugs).

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.