Toward a Theory of Internet Memoir: A Content Analysis of Grief-Related Storytelling in Social Media

Marianne Stochmal Heffernan, Salve Regina University


This dissertation is a content analysis of life story sharing on the internet, prompted by a person’s death, to demonstrate how social network sites are eliciting the development of a newform of memoir. It explores how the public publishing of grief expression has changed through the growth and development of social media. This study raises questions about what is considered memoir in the context and form of content surfacing on the internet in relation to the death of a loved one, when compared with the context and form of a traditionally published book. At the heart of this study is the question, “How are digital expressions that are related to loss different from and similar to the published memoir, both in the past and present?” The selected published memoirs are The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), Your Father’s Voice: Letters for Emmy About Life With Jeremy—And Without Him After 9/11 (2004), and Losing Mumand Pup (2009). The selected published online content examples are Randy Pausch (2008),Marina Keegan (2012), and the story of Kristina Chesterman (2014), as presented through a selection of social network sites. Using a Grounded Theory Constant Comparative approach, the author of this study proposes a revised definition of grief memoir and a formal definition of online grief memoir. It examines the selected published memoirs and the online content examples to produce a study that documents the growth of the online medium with regard to the way we share a life story through social media after someone has died.

Subject Area

Web Studies

Recommended Citation

Heffernan, Marianne Stochmal, "Toward a Theory of Internet Memoir: A Content Analysis of Grief-Related Storytelling in Social Media" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI30242618.

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