One More Day

Author: Kathy Cherven | Date: November 19, 2021

What would it feel like to talk to your loved one, hug them, hold them, feel their heartbeat; for just one more day? Seems impossible doesn’t it, but in this world of technology, it actually happened, or did it?

Let me tell you what happened and why I think this is an unhealthy idea.

The younger generation knows what virtual reality (VR) is, but for those who don’t, I’d like to explain. I’ve written the explanation directly from the internet because there was no way to summarize this definition!!

“VR is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. On computer, VR is primarily experienced through 2 of the 5 senses: sight and sound”.>virtual. I feel this is important to know to be able to grasp what I want to share.

There are hundreds if not thousands of VR (virtual reality) games to choose from to be entertained for hours. Would you like to try a virtual rollercoaster ride? How about touring Europe without leaving
the comfort of your home? Does exploring space sound like a great adventure for you? How about a VR where you can see your precious child who has died? Even interact with him/her?

I was recently shown a video where a mom was reunited with her daughter via Virtual Reality. One might think it was a moving, emotional video, but for me, it was heart-wrenching and upsetting to watch this mother trying to grasp her little girl one more time.

The process was very detailed and quite elaborate as a team of developers brought this child back from the dead so her mother could see her one more time.

To begin with, the mom was thoroughly evaluated to determine she was emotionally stable to do this. She then brought in pictures, videos, and any voice recordings of her daughter to be used in this process.

Six little girl actresses were hired to simulate the little girl’s looks, voice, and mannerisms making them look as much like the child as possible. The developers also wanted the mom to be able to actually interact with her child, making conversation as real as possible.

After many days and hours of practice, it was time for the mom to put on the VR goggles and meet her child. She instantly started sobbing and wailing when she saw her, frantically reaching for her daughter to hug and kiss her, hugging the air instead. There was no real interaction with her little girl, just scripted words anticipated a child would say to her mother, the voice sounding unnatural and robotic. The
child didn’t even look like the pictures the mom brought in.

At the end of the video, the scene showed the mom laughing with her children and engaging in life again. The developers considered the VR as a major development in helping those who are grieving.

Here’s my problem with this whole thing……. IT ISN’T REAL!!!

The definition of VR clearly states that the user “suspends belief”. I can see how this could be so tempting for grieving parents, but I’m deeply concerned about the after effects.

The child is a culmination of six girls similar in age and size of the child who died. It wasn’t her voice, there were no hugs. Just REALITY!! Her child is physically gone forever and can’t come back.

I see a huge risk for complicated grief if this becomes a program that can be purchased by individuals. Will they watch it every day instead of living each day? How will it affect relationships with other family members? At the end of the video, the mother said she wished the VR could be as her child would look today. It’ll never be enough.

Go back to the definition of VR: “it’s an artificial environment”. “The user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment”.

No one likes to experience the pain and heartache of grief. Emotions are overwhelming and confusing, affecting a person on all levels. The grief experience is as unique as a fingerprint, no one grieves alike.

There are no shortcuts through grief, no quick fix. Grief demands expression, and when it is ignored, or denied, it will find a way to present itself, whether it be physically, emotionally, behaviorally, and/or thought processes.

I feel to pretend a person didn’t die through VR has the potential to be more harmful than comforting. As soon as the goggles are removed, what damage has been done to the emotional well-being of the parent whose child was out of reach.

I feel like I’m starting to ramble, so it’s time to stop, but I plan on writing more about this in my next blog.

There’s a song by Diamond Rio called “One More Day”.

Here are some of lyrics, “One more day, one more time, one more sunset maybe I’d be satisfied.”  “But then again, I know what I would do, leave me wishing still for one more day with you.”

Thank you for reading, Kathy

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