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Death, Bereavement & Social Media Etiquette

Published: 06.11.2017

Now that so many of us are regular users of social media; it's easy to forget that an off the cuff or untimely post, can cause real hurt to someone in the process of grieving.

We've put together a list of helpful netiquette does and don'ts, to help you stay kind online.

The etiquette to online mourning is still evolving. Examining the [Facebook] wall posts show that mourning rituals are becoming less formalized since they moved online.
Death 2.0: Facebook Memorial Pages - Sara Koktan

Think Before You Post

1. Announcement of a Death

Don't post or announce someones death, until you have clear confirmation that their next of kin, wider family, friends and other people of personal importance, know about the death themselves. Announcing a death is really a matter for the next of kin, their representative or the family to do. If you do not fall into any of these categories, then do not post the moment you hear of a death.

It is always kinder to wait and to be sure.


2. Messages of Condolence

When a death is announced, messages of condolence and support are usually welcome, but do bear in mind that grieving people are likely to be dealing with a life altering change and may not be in a position to respond to you in person.

It is unkind to ask for details of the death or to expect information about the funeral so soon after a death, because often these details may not yet be known. The general rules are; try not to send more than one message, don't issue long communications, don't expect a personal or immediate response and don't asks lots of questions - personal or otherwise.

Wait for information to be offered to you.

3. Memorial Page; Audience

When a person leaves behind an active Facebook (or similar social media) account, think very carefully about who will see it, before you post to a live page. Some families take great comfort from seeing messages appear on their loved-one's feed and will be happy to see friendly activity continue.

So, with an audience of grieving family and friends, it is probably best not to keep repeating posts and pictures and to steer clear of posting anything which is; intimate or personal, potentially embarrassing, promotional advertising, inflammatory or salacious material.

Avoid troll-like behaviour.

4. Memorial Page; Respect

Sometimes it's far better to say nothing, than engage negatively with a third party on a memorial page (or other unmanned) or social media feed. Exchanges can become heated and so easily escalate. Arguments are not what friends and family should expect to see when visiting their loved-ones social media platform.

Be respectful of the person's memory, and of visitors to their feed or page.

5. Memorial Page; Security

You should also be aware that a memorial page (or other unmanned) or social media account may also attract the attention of criminals. It is therefore important not to post information which could place personal security or property, at risk.

Don't put up photographs or content which could lead the identification or whereabouts of children (or other vulnerable people), residential or private property or of business interests, bank accounts or other personal information.

Illustration of a little girl smiling and dressed in red and pink, standing outside a laptop and holding the hand of a smiling little boy dressed in blue, who is standing inside the laptop screen.

Be Kind Online

6. Announcement of a Funeral or Related Event

The announcement of a wake, funeral service, burial/cremation, funeral reception or memorial service; should be left to the next of kin, their funeral director or to their chosen representative.

Once an official announcement is made public, then it may be shared by you however, please remember that whilst a funeral service (like a wedding) is a matter of public record, some families may wish for part or parts of the occasion (ie. the wake, interment, funeral reception or memorial service) to be kept private or by invitation only.

Always respect the wishes of the family and do not share information that is to be kept private. If in doubt, contact the funeral director who will give you current information which is accurate and is in accordance with the their client's wishes.

7. Filming at Funerals

Although some families will allow a nominated individual or company to film the funeral (as a keepsake or to be viewed by family unable to attend), in general however, the filming of funerals is not that common. We recommend that no part of a funeral service, burial or cremation be filmed, unless the family has given their express permission for you to do so.

Also, film footage of a funeral should not be posted on social media by anyone other than the family or by their confirmed representative.

8. Photographs & Selfies

Photographs and selfies at funerals should be respectful and kept to an absolute minimum.

Where the coffin or casket is open, it is not acceptable or respectful to take photographs of the person inside, nor is it correct to photograph individuals who are actively mourning.

Photographs taken within the funeral service venue or taken of the actual burial or cremation, should not be posted on social media.

Hand holding a heart above a desk, keyboard and specticles

Be mindful of other peoples feelings

If we each take a moment to think before we post, we could make the grieving process a little easier for bereaved people who use social media.

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