Sharing condolences is important when someone loses a loved one. But first, understand these do’s and don’t’s before posting about a death on social media.
If you’ve never lost a loved one, it may be tough to understand the complicated relationship the grievers in your life have with social media. You want to be a sensitive friend, and honor the deceased with your platform. But is that really the right thing to do? What are the social rules for posting about a death on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? Read on for four rules to help you understand what and when to share (or not share).
Social Media Posts Following a Death: Proper Etiquette
- Don’t post before the family does. It is never in good taste to post about someone else’s loss on social media before they do. Why? Imagine being part of the deceased’s immediate family and finding out about the loss through an Instagram caption. Ouch. Before the news makes it to socials, everyone in the immediate family must be notified. You can convey your sentiment without posting about it. Call, text, or have a real-life conversation with someone you trust who can make space for your emotions.
- Let the family decide what to do with the deceased’s accounts. Every social media platform has different rules about managing the account of someone who’s passed away. Some allow you to memorialize the account, remove it, or leave it up as is. Memorializing an account means that the page will never come down, and alterations can never be made. That means that young children who may not have social media yet will never be able to “friend” or “follow” the memorialized page. This decision can have a lasting impact, and it’s a decision only the family closest to the deceased should make. They’ll need weeks or months to make important decisions like this.
- Grieve and let grieve. Those closest to the loss may want to post every single day, every single hour, every single minute about their loved one. That’s their prerogative! What seems excessive or triggering to you may be a necessary part of someone else’s grief recovery process. If it gets to be too much for you, leave the audience quietly. You can block if you need to, unfriend, or, if you’d like to remain connected but take a break from the posts, you can “snooze” or “mute” that person’s account.
- Check in with your grievers, the right way. There are a multitude of ways to tastefully share in someone’s grief. So here are a few phrases to say and not say in your friend’s time of need.
Here’s what not to say:
- “I know how you feel.”
- “You’ll get over this soon. Just give it some time!”
- “Hang in there–You’ll be fine!”
- “Keep your head up!”
- “Be strong!”
Instead, do say:
- “There are no words.”
- “If I were near you, I’d give you a big hug.”
- “I can’t imagine what this experience must be like for you right now.”
- “My heart is breaking for you” / “My heart is breaking with yours.”
Social Media isn’t the Only Way to Share Condolences
Remember, immediately turning to social media isn’t the only way to share your sentiments. Once the out-of-town visitors go home and people have stopped dropping by to say hello to the griever, the sudden silence can be devastating. So check in with your loved one often, even if it’s just a quick “I’m thinking about you!” Let the family of the deceased take the reins with managing social media updates. Your support does matter, and supporting in the right way reduces unnecessary pain or trauma and helps your beloved griever heal.
If you are experiencing grief after the death of someone you love, you are not alone. We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today to set up a free discovery call and spend some time with us – we’re here for you.
Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief within the family, listen to the full podcast episode here or download my free e-Book, The Griever’s Guide, which equips you with the tools to live life after grief; because no griever should have to navigate a broken heart on their own.