Published on April 5, 2019

A few years ago, people found out about deaths by word of mouth or obituaries written by the family. Condolences would be shared face-to-face or through the post. Today, social media has revolutionized the way we communicate, even about the most sensitive topics. While there is no etiquette book for handling loss and grief on Facebook, we have some guidelines that can help.

How Social Media Can Help:

  • Connection: People who are grieving can support one another through discussion on posts as well as in forums and groups specific to loss. This is especially helpful if the griever feels like no one else in their circle fully understands their loss. 
  • Legacy: A Facebook page can be converted into a memorial page so people can still post messages on hard days or holidays. 
  • Advocacy: Many people who experience a loss find meaning and purpose when they can make a difference through fundraising or advocacy work. Some find comfort promoting a cause on social media.

Social media can be an extremely powerful tool for processing grief, but it will never take the place of sharing your love and concern in person. If you have a grieving friend, use social media mindfully, but don’t stop there when it comes to showing support.

If you or a family member needs support, contact our grief support team at 615-963-4732. Alive grief counselor Katherine Reynolds, LMSW, contributed to this piece

Social Media Do’s and Don’ts When Someone Has Died:

Do:

  • Offer condolences in a private message, email, or text.
  • Share a warm memory or a status a close family member has already posted.
  • Tell a story that reflects your loved one’s life rather than their death. Sharing joyful memories is a powerful way to help yourself and others heal.

Don’t: 

  • Be the first to make a post without permission from the deceased’s close family. 
  • Share graphic or overly personal details about a person’s death.
  • Post platitudes; if you reach out, do it from the heart.

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