The Intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Grief: Exploring the Potential of Chatbots in the Bereavement Process

Artificial intelligence (AI) is time and time again shown as a powerful tool that offers a unique avenue for processing grief and sustaining digital connections with lost loved ones.

Chatbots, in particular, have gained prominence in this evolving sphere, providing an alternative route through the sorrow by digitally emulating the speech patterns and mannerisms of the deceased.

Chatbots as a Source of Comfort and Solace

The stories of Sunshine Henle, a 42-year-old professional from Florida, and Chris Cruz highlight the transformative power of chatbots in the grieving process. When Henle’s mother passed away, she turned to ChatGPT, an AI platform by OpenAI, to help fill the void left by her loss.

By inputting her last exchanges with her mother, she was able to engage in digital conversations that provided solace and a sense of connection.

Chris Cruz also found comfort through AI. Cruz fed an AI platform with previous exchanges he had with his father, who had died unexpectedly. The digital conversation that ensued gave Cruz a sense of closure and a unique avenue to process his emotions.


The Changing Landscape of Bereavement

These personal narratives bring a new era in bereavement — the age of “grief tech”. Social media platforms like Facebook have long offered features for memorialising the departed. Now, AI is offering an opportunity for two-way interaction. In essence, grief tech is about sustaining digital connections with lost loved ones posthumously.

A South Korean VR documentary showcases a mother meeting her deceased daughter through VR technology, while in China, a company uses AI to create life-like avatars of the departed.

In the UK, apps like HereAfter AI record and share stories of loved ones interactively post-death. Co-founder James Vlahos was motivated to launch the platform following his own experience of loss, where he sought a dynamic way to keep his father’s voice and stories alive have brought these innovations forth.

Some find comfort in this technology while others question the authenticity and ethics of replicating a deceased person’s personality. Both reasons are valid, as grief is a complex process that we all experience and deal with differently. Regardless, this is a progressive technology for those who would need it.