Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Grief and Social Media
Sara Lowe, LMSW
Watch the WZZM13 Senior Wellness Segment on this topic.
It’s natural that we want to share both triumphs and tragedies with our family and friends – and that includes posting online. However, it may be prudent to take a breath before deciding when and where it is appropriate to share grief and loss.
People have the best intentions and mean well when they share an online tribute. For some, these notifications feel comforting and supportive. But for others, each ping of the phone is another reminder that someone close died.
The most important factor to consider before sharing news on social media is allowing the family to contact everyone before the announcement is made public.
Everyone processes grief differently, and the family may be waiting to let the news sink in before sharing.
- If you learn of the death right away, take the lead from immediate family members before turning to social media.
- We want to avoid family and close friends learning of a death on Facebook. Let the person closest to the person who has died take the lead; this might be the spouse, partner, child, or someone else close to the person. It’s always best to hold off sharing your post until that person makes a public announcement.
The circumstances surrounding the death can also impact how you should react on Facebook.
- With prolonged illnesses, families will often set up dedicated Facebook or other online pages to keep extended family and friends updated. Often a death announcement will be made there, rather than on someone’s timeline.
When it comes to posting online, keep your thoughts authentic and positive. Sharing a particular memory cannot only be therapeutic for you, but for the family as well.
Some other tips include:
- Stay positive: Avoid sharing stories that could upset or offend anyone.
- Do not over-share: Be considerate in how many posts you share. Sharing too many can complicate the grieving process of others.
- Avoid tagging: If you regularly tag someone who has died, it can trigger complicated emotions for family and friends.
- Unfriending: It is OK to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone who has died. When you are grieving, constant reminders can be difficult, so do not feel guilty about this.
Social media can be a powerful way to build a community that helps during the grieving process.
- Social media is a powerful tool to support each other. There are many online support groups dedicated to very specific kinds of loss. It’s a great way to find strength and connect with a community.
- Use social media to make positive connections, but don’t stop there. In the end, it is important to reach out to the family personally.
The challenge with social media is that everyone feels so connected, it’s easy to skip that personal contact that bring meaning and comfort during difficult times. Don’t allow Facebook to let you forget what people need in a real life – a phone call. A visit. A hug.
No online tribute can replace these human interactions.
We understand your questions need answers, and Emmanuel Hospice is here to guide you no matter your question or concern.
You can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your need is urgent, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 616.719.0919.
To learn more about Emmanuel Hospice, visit their website.