How do you grieve a loved one? Megan Nollet and Bruce Gulland share of a new, innovative way to grieve someone you have lost to death.

Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Megan Nollet.                                                            

Voice 2

And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Voice 1

This program may be difficult for some people to hear. This program is about the death of a child.

Voice 2

Imagine a woman meeting her seven-year-old child. She has not seen the girl in a very long time. So, when they do see each other, the girl asks where her mother has been. She says she has missed her mother. The woman bursts into tears. But the girl does not seem angry. Together, they walk to a playground. The woman, still crying, watches her child play.

Voice 1

After a time, the girl takes her mother’s hand. Together, they fly up to a place that is a little like heaven. This is where the girl lives now. Together, they eat some of the girl’s favourite foods. Then, the girl is tired. She lies down in her bed. She tells her mother she loves her. “I am not in pain anymore,” she says. Then, she and the bed disappear for the last time. The woman cries and cries.

Voice 2

This woman’s name is Jang Ji-Sung, and she is not really meeting with her daughter. Instead, she is in a virtual reality simulation. Her daughter died of blood cancer. She has been dead for three years. But virtual reality programmers have attempted to re-create what the child looked like. They talked to her parents to understand what she was like. They asked about her favourite things. Then, they made a program that was just like her. They showed it to her mother. It was a program designed to help Jang process her grief.

Voice 1

People struggle with how to deal with death. Losing someone can feel like losing a part of yourself. And many of us want to have those people back. We may not know how to deal with these feelings. So, we tell stories about them. We look at pictures of them. And we try to get through the pain. But technology is becoming more advanced. And people are wondering if this advanced technology can change the way that we grieve. But are these technologies good? And are they the best way to deal with death? Today’s Spotlight is on how technology can change our ways of grieving.

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Stories about rescuing people from the dead are part of a long tradition of storytelling. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is from ancient Greece. They teach us lessons about seeing our loved ones after they have already died. Megan tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.

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Orpheus was a famous poet and musician. And Eurydice was his wife. They loved each other very much. Orpheus made music about her so beautiful that it made gods cry. But one day, Eurydice stepped on a poisonous snake. It bit her, and she died. Orpheus was incredibly sad.

He was so troubled that he travelled to Hades. In Greek myth, Hades was the land of the dead. He convinced its ruler to free Eurydice. Orpheus could lead Eurydice back to the land of the living. But there was one problem. Orpheus could not look at Eurydice. If he did, Eurydice would remain in Hades.

But Orpheus could not help himself. He was almost to the surface. And he glanced around at Eurydice. In that moment, she disappeared. He would never see her again. His grief was greater than when she first died. He had some hope. Now he had none.

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This story is a warning about thinking too much about the past. The point of the story is that the dead are dead. Wishing they are not dead will only hurt you. It will stop you from living your life.

Voice 1

Modern stories show a different way of dealing with grief. They talk about how technology can affect the grieving process. Black Mirror is a British science-fiction television show. Each episode tells a different story. And each deals with our relationship to technology. One episode is called “Be Right Back.” Bruce tells the story from this episode.

Voice 2

A woman’s boyfriend dies in a car crash. But she discovers that there is a new technology. This technology can look at her boyfriend’s social media. It can use this information to create an artificial intelligence. It is like her boyfriend. There is even technology to re-create a life-like copy of his body. She uses this technology. But the copy is not quite the same. It does not have her boyfriend’s negative qualities. It will do what she asks without question. She grows to hate the copy. It will never actually be her boyfriend.

Voice 1

This story is also a warning. It warns that technology can never replace humans. And that trying to bring people back will result only in pain.

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But are all technologies like this? Nick Stavrou and Steve Koutsouliotas are game designers. In 2015, they started creating a program called Project Elysium. Project Elysium was a virtual reality program. In it, people could visit virtual images of their dead loved ones. They could sit with them. They might even play a game together. These virtual images would not be very realistic. They would not be able to talk. But they would look, and act, in similar ways. They would be like photographs that moved and smiled. Koutsouliotas spoke to Fast Company magazine. He talked about why he thinks Project Elysium could be a good thing. He said,

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“What if you never had a chance to say goodbye? What if you feel like you are forgetting that person? Sometimes, I panic. I feel like I am forgetting what my father’s face looked like. It is the small things that I fear losing as time goes on. Like sitting next to him. Or, watching him smile when I told him something funny. These are the things that Project Elysium has a better chance at offering.”

Voice 1

Stavrou and Koutsouliotas believe that technology can help the grieving process. Visiting someone in project Elysium would be just like looking at a picture. Or it could be like going to a memorial.

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Still, there are concerns about this kind of technology. As it grows more advanced, could it become more like Black Mirror? Technology may one day be able to make a realistic virtual copy of someone. But someone who is living could also become a virtual copy, even if it is something they did not choose. And it could make grief worse.

Voice 1

But grief is different for everyone. For some people, seeing someone they loved in virtual reality will make them feel worse. For others, it may do a lot of good. For Jang Ji-sung, seeing her daughter again was difficult. But it helped her do something she felt she had not been able to do. She could say goodbye. She spoke in a documentary made about her experience. She said,

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“Maybe it is a real paradise. I met my daughter. She called me with a smile. It was a very short time. But it is a very happy time. I think I have had the dream I have always wanted.”

Voice 2

Have you lost a loved one? How did you grieve? Would you want to meet them again in virtual reality? You can leave a comment on our website at www.spotlightenglish.com. You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Dan Christmann. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called: Technology and Death.

Voice 2

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you lost a loved one? How do you grieve? Would you want to meet them again in virtual reality?

Join the discussion

19 comments
  • Yes I have lost most my family specially my parents, my grieved was very hard because I had been living far from home and I couldn’t even saw them before death, I hope and want to meet with them again in virtual reality but I know that never will happen again but I feel they are reality life from remembering them support , advices to me and how they are so kind with me.

  • I have just lost my beloved sister by a car accident recently. It was so sudden. I even couldn’t say goodbye her. I felt like a part of my body going to died. I’m missing her alot. She is always in my thoughts every single day. I wish I would see her again in a reality not virtual reality. But I know my wish will never come true.

  • I had lost my friend in the last year in a car accident , it‘s a horrible memory as the accident was in front of my eyes, I didn’t even move any step I just shocked in my place, the memory doesn’t fade away from my brain after all this time, once I hear his name simultaneously my brain brings up the memorial.
    I hope to see him again even if it will be in a virtual reality, just setting next to him and hearing his laugh again.
    God blessing you hazem ♥️

  • My best friend was died in a car crash when he was going go home. I can’t met him at last time. I felt grief a long time. So, I really want to see him again if i can in vituarl reality technology.

  • Death is a kind of love from our god.
    Death is a kind of mercy from our god.
    And it is something we cannot escape it and we must accept the death and no one will stay in this world and all we will die except our god

  • The computer creates an image of the person who died. You get the feeling that you are talking to this person. This is an illusion. You are fooling your own mind. You are cheating the mind. It will not help you. You must accept death. Remember that you will die too.

  • Yes, I have lost my grandmother about 4 years ago…At that time, I sometimes dream of her and I was very happy after I wake up, There is so much emotional for that day. I knew that she died and I also told her in my dream , even she died but I still want to see her in every my dream at night ….So pity that , the Virtual reality is not in Viet Nam only in another country around America and Europe . Thank you Spotlight program so much for this topic , it is really interested me. Love

  • Yes i have lost my cousin . He had an accident, he was speeding up on his car then the car skidded then got die,
    I would not meeting him in virtual reality because this will increase my pain
    But I would meeting him in paradise

  • Yes,Ihave.I’ve lost my uncle 8 years ago.he died because of a hemorrhagic stroke,he was a hypertensive patient and what happened was a result of an uncontrolled hypertension. What matters with me is, it was no chance to say: Goodbye!

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