How to announce a Death on Social Media
Other than dealing with the grief that comes with losing a loved one, the hardest part of the process can often be telling others about it, whether that be friends, family, or acquaintances. Traditionally, this would be done through obituaries, or word of mouth, but because of the prominent role that social media plays in today’s society it’s become common practice to announce a loss on social media.
Some may choose to forego this step, wishing to simply ignore social media. Others will think about it anxiously for months, unsure of how and what to say. Either way, by notifying the lost ones social media friends and followers you’re taking the first step to coming to terms with the loss, and dealing with their leftover accounts.
When Facebook first emerged, social media etiquette was still in its infancy. Because it was primarily used for jokes, rants, and images, many users thought it inappropriate to use it for such sensitive matters. However, the social network has evolved into an all-encompassing platform, and most people use it as a means of delivering personal news to their close circles. This is becoming extremely common for younger generations; as they grow up and foster Facebook accounts from their infant years, it becomes a natural extension of their consciousness, and loss is no exception to this rule.
A few years back Facebook introduced its ‘legacy contact’ feature, an update to its’ memorialize option. Originally, you were able to memorialize the account of a deceased user, meaning that it would be viewable, and other users could even interact with it, but no new info could be posted on it. Now Facebook is allowing additional options of what can be done with such accounts.
For example you could choose to completely delete the loved ones account. This will remove any posts, photos, comments, and so on. Yet many people forego this option, feeling that by deleting the Facebook account, they’re removing the little memory that’s left of their loved one.
If you’ve been designated as their legacy contact, you have much more functionality with their Facebook account. You could create a memorial post that would be indefinitely pinned to the top of their page, download their photo archives, and update new pictures.
Before creating a post for their social media page, you should decide whether posting is appropriate to begin with. To do so, consider the following factors:
- What was the age of the deceased? Were they old/young enough to be a social media user?
- Would they have wanted such an announcement made on social media, or would they have preferred more traditional methods?
- Were they an active social media user, or did they have an account just for the sake of having one?
- Was social media a prominent method that they used for communicating with friends and family?
If they were not a consistent social media user, it may be ineffective to post on social media. For example, sharing the loss of an elderly family member on Facebook will rarely reach anyone close to them. However, if they were active on any social media platform, you can rest assured knowing that your post will be heard and received by many of their friends and colleagues.
Any post that you create needs to be respectful to the lost loved one, as well as to those receiving the news. Letting close family members know through a Facebook post can be seen as indirect and disrespectful. For them, a more direct method, such as call or text, would be most appropriate.
The initial announcement should revolve specifically around logistics. The date and time of the memorial service or funeral, the location, and information about memorials and donations are the important information tidbits that people should be aware of. This will ensure that no one is left out of the loop when it comes to remembering your lost loved one. After this, you can look to creating a more emotional post.
Craft a post that reflects the emotions you had for that person, remembering their good qualities, good memories, and reasons for which you will never forget them. Photos and videos can also be posted as a means of helping people remember the deceased.
Another powerful option is turning their profile into a memorial wall, allowing friends and family to post memories, condolences, and photos to their profile. Monitor the posts to ensure that they’re respectful, and post one of your own to start everyone off. Most importantly, be respectful and emotional, and don’t be scared to share your true feelings.
There’s no reason to be scared of dealing with a lost loved ones social media account, and for many people it can actually help deal with the grieving process. Months later, when you’re ready to go back and look at their profile, the loving posts from friends and family can actually help you remember your lost loved one, and alleviate some of the pain of loss.