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Death in the Digital Age: Why You Need to Think Before You Post on Social Media

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Social-Media-EtiquetteThe death of a loved one is one of the hardest events we face in life. Now, imagine coupling that pain with the heartache you’d feel after finding out about a loss on social media instead of from a trusted family member. 

As new platforms rise in popularity, it’s easier than ever for users to share status updates, photos and personal information. But, our increasing connectedness can cause harm and heartache if used carelessly. 

People are quick to turn to social media to talk about death, but few rarely think about the aftermath of their actions. What seems like a sympathetic post can turn into a devastating reality for the deceased’s family members and friends if they aren’t notified beforehand. 

What’s more, social media can prolong the grieving process if followers continuously tag or share information about the death online.

Why Is Announcing a Death on Social Media An Issue?

The digital age moves fast—almost too fast. Before the surge of social media, news traveled slower, giving families the time they needed to call or visit loved ones to alert them of a death. Now, we’re lucky if we have a few hours before someone takes to the internet to share the news or pass condolences—all before even the closest of family members have heard the news.

Here at Busch, we’ve witnessed this firsthand and have seen this issue increase amongst grieving families. We’ve seen individuals call a trusted source immediately after finding out the news in pure shock. Before they can even tell immediate family members, that trusted source has already logged onto Facebook or texted others— sharing unconfirmed details or spreading the word in mere minutes.

To best prepare families for such circumstances, take into account these suggestions when announcing the passing of a loved one on social media.

1. Let Time Pass Before Posting to Social Media 

Nothing can be as disheartening as having to find out about the passing of a loved one through social media.

While we’ve seen word leak out in less than one hour in some instances, we recommend avoiding social media announcements for three to six hours. This will give you and your family enough time to process the initial shock and notify those closest to the deceased. If you’re feeling overwhelmed after a few calls or visits, ask others to help spread the word, but carefully explain the sensitivity of this issue

Request that no one post anything until you’ve had a chance to notify close friends and family offline first. While anyone affected by loss can feel a strong impulse to share the news on social media, such announcements should be left to the family. 

Tip: If you hear about a death, it’s up to you to keep that information private unless given the permission to share with others. Remember the implications of a single social media post, and how quickly news can spread.  

2. Take Time to Come Up With the Right Words 

Losing a loved one is an emotional time for close family and friends. It may be difficult to put your thoughts into words. 

If you find yourself at a loss, give yourself time. There’s no handbook to grief, so don’t feel obligated to post on social media about your loved one’s passing just because others have in the past.

If you do choose to write a post, keep it brief. Choose your wording carefully and be mindful of other family members and friends who are hurting right now. Most importantly, never share unconfirmed details about the death. Social media can easily become an environment for rumors or misinformation— only making the experience harder for grievers. 

A simple way to announce your loved one’s passing is to share their online obituary. Obituaries serve as a way to inform the community of a death, and grant you the opportunity to tell a story and capture the essence of your loved one. 

Tip: To celebrate the life and legacy of the deceased, share stories and memories on social media, along with photos of happier times.

3. Post Details about the Service 

If you and your family decide to have a public gathering for your loved one, social media can be a great tool to share details about the service. 

Before posting anything, you’ll want to make sure the information is factual. Discuss service details, including the date, time and location with family members and friends prior to posting. If there are any events taking place before or after the service, such as a luncheon, include this information if others are welcome to attend. Additionally, if you’ve chosen to accept donations in lieu of flowers, you may want to write a short blurb signifying the charity of choice. 

Tip: Make sure every post or share is done with tact. Although you may have had a personal relationship with the deceased, it’s ultimately up to the family to decide how to announce the death

When it comes to announcing the passing of your loved one, only take to social media when you and your family are ready. While there’s no right way to deal with death online, there are general rules for delivering the message in a thoughtful manner.

At Busch Funeral and Crematory Services, we’re dedicated to helping families through the entire planning and bereavement process. Contact one of our caring professionals to arrange services for your loved one.

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Image credit: Pexels  

Jim Busch
Jim Busch
Owner and president of our firm. Fourth generation funeral director and certified crematory operator, Jim is guided by his principles in faith, family and friends. He loves to hear feedback from our families. Proudly serving Busch families since 1986.

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