In today’s world of social media and smartphones, we find ourselves constantly sharing updates about our lives online. But is there ever a time when it’s inappropriate to post something online?
For example, when someone passes away, when is it appropriate to post about their death on social media? And what should you say? We’ll address these questions and provide some social media etiquette tips for announcing a loved one’s death.
How Long Should I Wait to Post on Social Media?
Creating a social media post about a loved one’s death is both a way to grieve and memorialize them. However, it’s important to consider your social media followers and whether they know yet about their loved one’s death. No one should have to find out through social media that their close family member or friend passed away. They deserve to hear it from a family member or friend, not an online post.
Generally, wait at least 24 hours before posting about a loved one’s death. That way, this allows time for the deceased’s family and friends to be personally contacted about their loved one’s passing. Or, if you know for sure that everyone was contacted about the death, then it’s probably alright to post online.
Another thing to consider is letting those closest to the deceased post first if they wish to. For example, if your cousin passes away, consider letting their parents or siblings make the first post. Since you both likely share friends on social media, your aunt and uncle may want people to hear the news from them. Although everyone is grieving your cousin’s death, it’s a considerate gesture to let them post first since it’s their child.
Also, remember that everyone grieves differently. You don’t have to feel obligated to post on social media about your loved one’s passing just because other people did. It doesn’t mean that you’re any less impacted by their death.
What Should I Say?
Losing a loved one is an emotional and stressful time, so it may be difficult to put your thoughts into words. If you find yourself at a loss for words, one way you can honor your loved one is through pictures. Change your profile photo or cover photo to a photo of you with your loved one. You can include a concise, yet meaningful caption with it. Or, post a status including photos of your favorite memories with your loved one.
If you write a post about your loved one, here are some writing tips to keep in mind:
- Focus on sharing the positive memories you have with the deceased.
- Refrain from sharing anything too personal on social media.
- Don’t share too many details about their cause of death.
- Be mindful of your word choice and anything that could offend someone.
- Don’t abuse the “tag” feature by constantly tagging the deceased and their loved ones in posts.
- Take your time to come up with the right words. Don’t feel rushed.
Another way to express your grief is by sharing their obituary on social media. Some funeral homes may share their obituaries on their social media pages, or you can find it on their website. For example, Frazer-powered websites have a Tribute Wall where you can view obituaries and post your own online tribute. Your post can include a memorial message, photos, virtual candle, and other meaningful tributes that last forever.
If the deceased had a Facebook account, it can be turned into a memorialized account for loved ones to share tributes. It’s best to add a legacy contact if you want your account memorialized after you pass away. A legacy contact can look after your account by writing posts and managing requests.
When Should I Post a Status vs. Send a Message?
If you want to share the news with your social media friends or followers, posting a status is the best option. If you want to share your condolences with the grieving family, a private message is the way to go.
For example, on Facebook, a private message is a better option than posting on someone’s Facebook wall or on your newsfeed. Their Facebook friends can see posts on their wall, so it wouldn’t be a private conversation.
And don’t post on their Facebook wall if they haven’t made their own post about the death. If they do make their own post, you can like or react to their post and make a comment. It’s best to keep comments on posts short, such as “Sorry for your loss.” If you want to share a longer message or memory with the deceased, send them a private message instead.