SFIO CRACHO/ShutterstockCould Facebook be the new funeral? For many people, social media has become a platform to help cope with death; you can write touching tributes to the deceased, send comforting messages to their loved ones, and mourn with the rest of the community. But many of us don’t realize that grieving online could actually be more harmful than helpful for the loved ones left behind.
When her husband passed away, blogger Taya Dunn Johnson felt overwhelmed with grief, heartbreak, and anger. But she was also overwhelmed by something much less private: a flood of calls, texts, and—yes—Facebook notifications from friends and family.
Although well intentioned, the messages on social media added an unnecessary distraction to the already stressful day. Not only was Johnson busy making arrangements for her deceased husband, but worried calls from loved ones also demanded her attention. She eventually asked a friend to post a status to her Facebook page on her behalf. (Make sure you know the things that smart people do to prepare for death.)
Her experience taught her an important lesson: Only those closest to the deceased should announce the death on a public platform, Johnson says.
“There is a hierarchy of grief,” she wrote for Upworthy. Although people should still express their love, support, and concern for the recently deceased and their family, they should first take cues from the grieving family.
Before posting something about the death on Facebook or another social media platform, take a moment to see if those closest to the deceased—either a spouse, parent, or child—have said anything online. If not, it would be courteous to wait until they do so. (Make sure to be aware of these 12 funeral etiquette tips that everyone should know.)
“The person is no less dead and your sympathy no less heartfelt if your post, photo, or tweet is delayed by a few hours,” Johnson said. “I assure you that if we each adopted a little patience and restraint in this area, we would help those who are in the darkest hours of their lives by not adding an unnecessary layer of stress.”
If you’re eager to help a loved one grieve, this incredible story proves why “Let me know if you need anything” doesn’t work.