Nearly there.....

I have now finished writing each of my chapters and am starting back at the beginning. This process of reading, editing and re-writing is allowing me to re-visit some of the interview transcripts from my research and re-familiarise myself with participants words and experiences that happened over three years ago.

I’ve had highs and lows during this PhD, and each time I have reminded myself of the stories of the people who gave their time to tell me about the precious digital memories and messages they have inherited. It is these people, and their deceased loved ones, who have motivated me to write my thesis - I hope I can do them justice.


I have now started to write-up my findings from the PhD research I have been doing for the past 2 years and am truly amazed by the time people have given to my research.  

When those involved in my research give their time and emotional energy to discuss their darkest moments and deepest grief, the use of terms such as "participants" and "preliminary findings" seems disrespectful.  In my thesis I use these terms with sincere respect and thanks to all those who have given their time for this study.  

Many of my participants are what I call "digital inheritors" and have inherited the digital memories created by others.  Now, I need to find more people who are doing the "creating": people who are life-logging, people who are creating chatbots of themselves or avatars to be used by future generations.  

Please get in touch if you would like to be a participant:

Finding the findings....

When I started this research I thought I knew what I was going to find - how very naive.  Each and every time I complete an interview with a participant I hear new things.  In research you are supposed to reach "data saturation" where you get to a point where each interview is offering nothing new to the research, where things have already been said by previous participants.  However, when researching grief and bereavement each story is so very personal, so very personal that I really do not see when I can reach data saturation.  

I think the lesson to learn from this is there really is no norm, no correct way to grieve and that the very thought that grief has stages to be worked through in order to reach "closure" or the ability to "move on" is just not how people experience grief. 


Listening to others talk so openly about their grief is always difficult, but today it is particularly hard to transcribe my interviews: It has been 31 years ago that I last saw my wonderful Dad who I still miss each and every day.  During my research I have often wondered how many times I would have visited social media sites if the technology had been available back then to create online identities.  

Only last week someone sent me a photograph of my Dad (I have very few images of him) and to receive it on my iPhone was surreal, but it is now digital and therefore can be saved to the cloud - immortalising the almost lost photograph of this man who shaped and brought sanity to my life.

In The Good ol' U S of A

Sitting in the wonderful state of Florida transcribing interviews is not a bad place to be.  However recent political changes make me see the world differently now. I will be here for the inauguration of Donald Trump and it will be with a heavy heart I remember the hope I felt 8 years ago when Barack Obama was inaugurated.  Oh well, as I always say to my kids "it will all come out in the wash".

I have been interviewing for almost a year now and it never ceases to amaze me how wonderful people are.  I speak to such diverse people for my research, but each and every interview has taught me something new about how people think and feel about death and dying.

I am hoping to finish all my transcribing this week - we will see how that goes!


Blogging About Blogging

Seems strange to discuss blogging in a blog, but the more blogs I read the more I see how the creative nature of blogging is infections.

I enjoy the freedom of writing a blog - no referencing, no peer review just writing.  It's like a conversation with yourself.

I kept a diary through my difficult childhood but destroyed them when my life got better because I did not want to be reminded of dark times, but I wish I'd have kept them as I think it's important to see how differently I see the world now.  More importantly, I see myself differently now and blogging and keeping my research diary (which is an important part of quantitative research methods) has become a pleasure for me.


When I started this research I don't think I realised how much it would affect me - not necessarily in a negative way but just how talking, reading and writing about dying can make you feel so different about living.  

Listening to people's stories is a privilege, and my research is teaching me lessons I never thought I needed to learn.

Death Goes Digital Podcast

Today the podcast I did has been published which is great news.  Talking to Peter Billingham at Death Goes Digital about my research was a great experience.  When he asked me to think about my funeral song, my favourite book and my favourite film I didn't realise how difficult it was going to be. But I am really happy (if not a little embarrassed) with my final choices. Talking with Peter about how I started out on this research reminded me how passionate I feel about what I am about to embark on.  I am looking forward to recruiting my participants and starting my interviews in the near future and more importantly I am excited about what I am going to find!

Listen to the podcast here:

Bank Holiday Weekend

What great weather some have had over this bank holiday weekend.  Friends over for a BBQ and plenty of food and drink on Sunday, but then back to my research on Monday.

Trying to put together all the 'tools' for recruitment really concentrates the mind on the why and how behind my study.  I am passionate about understanding people's motivations behind the creation of digital memories. Do they themselves find comfort in the act of creation? Do they do it for others? - I can't wait to begin the interviews in an attempt to gain more understanding of this fascinating new phenomena.

Digital Legacy Conference

A great conference held at St Joseph's Hospice in London. Meeting so many interesting people who are debating and discussing issues of death and dying.  There were many speakers during the afternoon but the most personal and moving speech came from Jane Harris who spoke so eloquently about how following the death of her son Josh, the close family decided to film Josh’s funeral and make it into a film "Beyond Goodbye".

Finally, Dr Mark Taubert read out his letter to David Bowie - which has caused quite a media storm.  Listening to the letter and how the death of David Bowie has enabled others to discuss death with patients was very thought provoking.