The world is changing. Hand-written notes have given way to texts. Birth announcements are made on Facebook. We even have a President who communicates with the nation via Twitter.
Even the most sensitive subject — the death of a loved one — is becoming the province of social media.
But although the medium of announcement has changed, many of the traditions and much of the etiquette have remained. End of life is still a sensitive subject to be treated with formality and sobriety.
The reach of social media will inform people that you never expect to hear from at the moment you are grieving.
1. Continue Notifying the Family in Person
It remains inappropriate for close family members, and even close friends, to learn about the loss of their loved one on social media. Anyone who could be expected to experience grief at the loss of the deceased should be contacted in person or by phone. Social media is convenient but not personal enough for announcing a death to a close relative. Not doing this can hurt them and deepen their grief.
We know of one situation in which a man died unexpectedly at a young age in the middle of the night. As word began to spread, his siblings asked all involved not to announce anything until his mother awoke and she could be informed of the devastating news personally. Unfortunately, someone posted condolences on the mother’s Facebook page, which she saw before the phone call from her children.
2. Delay the Post Until the Grapevine Does Its Work
It is generally a good policy to wait 24 hours for family and friends to contact each other and spread the news person-to-person. This avoids the awkward situation of someone accidentally finding out via tweet or Facebook post.
3. Be Respectful of the Deceased and Their Family
When remembering the deceased on social media, or announcing the news, remember that it is not jaunty gossip, but the regretful sharing of sadness. Assume anything you write will be viewed by loved ones. Use respectful language befitting the occasion.
Also, know what to include and what not to. The family might not want the cause of death to be known, or they might want all announcements to include mention of an unmarried partner. Their concerns are foremost at this sensitive time.
4. Use Transitional Language in the Announcement
It is important to ease readers into the news with transitional language that alerts them to the gravity of the announcement. You don’t want someone in a work meeting, or at a sporting event, to read the blunt announcement of the death of a friend or family member. Use language like this: “It is with deep sadness that I announce this very distressing news…” That allows people to delay reading the specifics until a more appropriate time.
5. Get the Message Just Right
Writing’s not your thing? There are resources online to help you convey the message respectfully.Here is one that offers free death announcements for you to choose from.
6. Get the Facts Straight
There is nothing worse than announcing someone’s death and misspelling their name or getting details of their life or the funeral arrangements wrong. Misinformation can spread fast and wreak havoc.
7. Consider the Deceased’s Social Media Accounts
Platforms these days make it possible to remove accounts or maintain them as memorials. Facebook makes it easy, as does Twitter, but Instagram requires you to prove you are an immediate family member. Pinterest requests an email with this information.
The bottom line with death announcements on social media is the same as in other communication at the time: discretion is the key.
Stuhr Funeral Home, a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, cares for families of those whose lives have ended. Stuhr Funeral Home is committed to providing quality arrangements to honor loved ones and family traditions. For more information about funeral services available, visit HenryStuhr.com or call (843) 723-2524.