Dying Online: An Analysis of End-of-Life Narratives

Allison Gibson, Abigail L. Latimer, Danielle R. Silberman, Donna L. Schuman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technology is changing many aspects of our daily lives including how we share our experiences. While there have been many advances in technology to sustain life, it has also led to changes in how we die. This study utilized publicly available online narratives (vlog postings) written by individuals diagnosed with a terminal illness to explore themes on what dying individuals wished to say about their experiences (n = 39). While the content of the messages varied, universally all postings provided advice for living a good life. The implications of these narratives are still unknown. Questions remain about the role online peer support plays in the dying process and the extent to which sharing one’s digital story can affect others online. The act of being introspective at the end of life and the desire for social connection is similar to other forms of social work intervention such as dignity therapy suggesting an opportunity for further exploration. Additionally, these end-of-life narratives could also serve as a tool for educating future social work professionals about the experiences of those diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-76
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Coping
  • dying
  • narrative
  • social support
  • vlogging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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