People on their smartphones.

 

Written by Jenny Goldade

 

With 77% of American adults owning smartphones (per Pew Research Center), many people communicate mainly on their phone via social media and texts. Whether it’s to make plans, wish a happy birthday or just say hello, we communicate just about everything via social media and texts.

 

But what about expressing condolences for someone’s loss? When is it okay to express condolences for someone’s loss on social media or via text versus a personal note or another method? Let’s discuss some best practices for expressing sympathy.

 

Condolences Best Practices

When deciding how to express your condolences, you should use your best judgment. If you’re acquaintances with the person and your primary communication is through social media or texting, then a social media message or text should be fine.

 

This also may be alright to do for a family member or friend, but you should follow-up with a personal letter. The letter may take several days to mail, so it’s a good idea to send a social media or text message to let them know you’re thinking of them. And depending on your closeness to the person grieving, you also can stop by for an in-person visit. Just make sure they know ahead of time and are okay with you stopping by.

 

A good ending to any expression of condolences is to let them know you respect their privacy and understand if they need space. Tell them you don’t expect a quick response or even a response at all. Everyone processes grief differently, and responding to condolence messages may be too much for them. Just let them know you’re there for them if they need you.

 

If do you choose to send a social media or text message, let’s go over some best practices.

 

Social Media Condolences

There are several ways to communicate on social media. We’re going to focus on Facebook and the difference between three communication methods: message, post, and comment.

 

A Facebook message is probably your best bet since it’s private. Especially if you want to write a long, personal message with memories of the deceased.

 

Posting on their Facebook wall is okay if they’ve made a post about their loved one’s passing. You don’t want to bring it up publicly if they haven’t — they may not be ready to make that announcement, or might be choosing not to share that information with everyone. Also, keep in mind that a wall post isn’t private. Their friends can see your post, so if you want your message to be private, send a message instead.

 

If they posted a status about their loved one’s passing, you can comment on it to express your sympathy. However, keep it short and sweet, such as “Sorry for your loss.” If you want to write something longer and more personal, send a message instead or in addition to the comment.

 

Text Message Condolences

If you send a text message, don’t take it personally if they don’t respond. Keep in mind that they’re grieving and may not respond right away or at all. They also might be overwhelmed with texts and other messages, so they may or may not be able to respond to them all right away.

 

What are your thoughts on expressing sympathy through a social media message or text?