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Grief and Social Media; an evolving experience.

Many view social media as negative when it comes to sharing personal feelings on sites like Facebook. While we agree that airing your ‘dirty laundry’ shouldn’t be done on such a public forum, seeking help and support in times of turmoil is a different matter.

Connection with family and friends is paramount, and social media in this new digital age is filling this need. It allows an opportunity to let others know that someone has died, and this, in turn, is the catalyst for support with the response being genuine and heartfelt. Social media allows a ‘safe’ buffer for those mourning a loss that is close to them. It’s a more comfortable way to grieve publicly, rather than the real-life painful interactions with others some fear to experience. They can moderate contact with others, and although the expressions of empathy in return are at arm’s length, it doesn’t mean they’re any less meaningful.

Death which has been deemed a taboo subject in day-to-day life is increasingly being considered appropriate on social media. However, the subject remains sensitive and delicate. What one person may feel is highly constructive, others including family may see it very differently. Poor taste or offensive content is unnecessary and can be hurtful, especially to grieving family members. So, remember to be respectful with your posts and consider the family who may come across it before hitting ‘post’.

What happens to your Facebook account if you pass away?

It’s a valid question. Families, colleagues and friends are not only coping with losing loved ones, but they are also making decisions around digital technology, including social media accounts. They may also still interact with the Facebook profile left behind. After all, this is the one place people decide to share information from their otherwise private lives and it will hold precious memories for them.

For centuries families have erected monuments of their deceased family members, it’s just now those memories are digital and more accessible to others worldwide.

Facebook offers two options when a person dies – to deactivate the account or convert it into a memorial. Family and friends can still interact through timeline messages and images. However, it’s important to add a ‘legacy contact’ to look after your account once memorialised.

We know that relationships don’t cease when someone dies. Digitally they will continue to change and evolve with technology and time. It’s whether we are individually brave enough to embrace this change that will be the difference. Talk with loved ones about your preferences or wishes as to what happens with your social media accounts.