Sharing Grief on Social Media: Dos and Don’ts

Published: December 5, 2022

When a beloved member of the local community died suddenly, his closest friends were shocked to get the news when a journalist called for their comments. One of the early responders to the emergency call had tipped off a news hotline, a shocking breach of professional and social media ethics. With the digital era, sharing our daily joys and sorrows has been in many ways a boon, allowing even distant family to take part in our lives. But this blessing carries the potential to harm as well as heal. Herewith, some dos and don’ts for sharing our grief on social media.

First, DO leave announcements to closest family and friends. They will set the tone and choose the timing. They will also decide which platforms to use, based on the loved one’s wishes and history with social media. They might choose Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; LinkedIn is another possibility for those who have used it professionally. DO respect their decisions, including how private they wish to keep the discussion.

DO take your time in replying to the posts. Be thoughtful. Make sure your details are correct; doublecheck your post for spelling and other facts. Is this a message you would like to receive in the same circumstances?

DO consider your relationship with the deceased. If you were only casual friends, limit your comments to a simple expression of condolences. DON’T make it about yourself.

DON’T ask uncomfortable questions or try to get more details. Offer your condolences. DO respect the family’s need for privacy.

A Facebook page is a community space where you can share stories, post photos, and respond to comments made by others. Do share grief but keep your reminiscences in the same vein as the family’s. DON’T take the opportunity to dredge up old grievances.

DON’T rely solely on social media posts to announce details of services. Not everybody is on Facebook or Twitter. One woman discovered months after her husband’s memorial service that one of his oldest friends had not attended because he is not active on social media and was unaware of the event.

DO follow up later with a phone call, a brief visit, a heartfelt card and note. DON’T reach out in person in the first days unless you are close to the family.

If you are posting about a loved one’s death, DO link the social media message with an obituary, plans for services, or to the website of any charity the deceased supported for memorial contributions.

Used tastefully and with care, social media posts can save families much repetition at a time of deep grief and often confusion. For another look at this topic, check out an article in Reader’s Digest https://www.rd.com/list/death-on-social-media/.

The experienced and caring staff at Raynor & D’Andrea Funeral Home (https://www.raynordandrea.com/) can help you with obituaries and public announcements. Thanks for reading our blog. You can reach out to us, Raynor & D'Andrea Funeral Home, anytime at 1-800-737-0017.

 
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