In today’s world, we live so much of our lives on social media that it only makes sense that death would find its way into our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. But this is still relatively new territory, so it can difficult to navigate the etiquette of what to do and say about death on social media.
When it comes to responding to a death online, keep these five rules in mind:
1. Don’t share news that isn’t yours to share
Always let the closest family members post news of a death first. You may be aware of the death, but keep the information to yourself and out of your newsfeed. Remember, family members may not post immediately. They are most likely busy making arrangements with the funeral home and processing their shock over the loss. Posting on Facebook is likely the furthest thing from their minds.
Give them space and let them share in their own time. That includes not posting condolences on their Facebook page or tagging them on other social networks until they have publicly shared the news.
2. Don’t overshare
Once the death has been made public, you may feel the need to share on your own network, expressing your sadness and grief. Feel free to share your emotions, but keep the details private. This is particularly important if the death is of a sensitive nature, such as a suicide or the result of a violent act. If the person’s close family members have not made these details public, it’s not your place to do so.
3. Express your sympathies, but don’t go overboard
Once someone has posted about the death of a loved one or close friend, it’s perfectly appropriate to post a comment offering sympathies or a prayer for the family. There’s no need to bombard the person with private messages, though, especially if your relationship is more acquaintance than friend.
Don’t ask questions or pry for details about how the death occurred. People will share those when and if they are ready. And if you’re not close or simply know each other in professional circles, a simple “My sympathies for your loss” is appropriate.
4. Use social media to help
One of the benefits of social networks is the power to communicate with a large group at once and mobilize people to action. If a close friend or family member has lost a loved one, use social media to organize meals, find babysitters if they have young children or communicate about how to make a donation in memory of the deceased. People are often eager to help but aren’t sure how. Social media is a great tool for giving them tangible ways to feel useful.
5. Good taste prevails at the funeral
If you’re attending a funeral or memorial service, put your phone away. Don’t write about the service on your social networks and certainly don’t take or post photos. A live stream or video of the service or some photographs of those giving a eulogy may be appropriate if there are family members or friends who are unable to attend in person. Coordinate that with the spouse or closest relatives to get their permission and discuss appropriate ways to distribute that information.
Social media can be a useful tool in sharing news, helping a grieving friend or simply expressing sadness over a loss. But good manners and proper etiquette are still important. Follow the rules of good taste online just as you would in person.
Stuhr Funeral Home, a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, understands that times of grieving are difficult, no matter what era we’re living in. Their entire team is dedicated to providing the best and most professional care for their clients during their time of grieving and healing.
For more information call (843) 723-2524.