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Technology and Grief

5 Tips for Announcing a Death on Social Media

By Grief/Loss, Technology and Grief

Announcing the death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult task. It forces you to acknowledge that someone you love has died, and in many ways, there’s just no way to put what you feel into words. But announcing the death on social media, through an obituary, or in a newspaper is a necessary step.

Social media allows us to communicate rapidly and widely. You may not know every person your loved one had a relationship with, so making an announcement online is an efficient way to reach people. Additionally, posting online creates a place for people to mourn, share memories, and express condolences while also keeping things simple for you. More than likely, you are already dealing with a wide range of emotions, and it’s much less draining to post once than to attempt to talk to each person individually.

Even so, death is a sensitive topic and should handled with care and tact. Let’s review a few tips for announcing a loved one’s death online.

1. Notify close loved ones first

Make sure you notify close family and friends in a more personal way first, such as in-person, with a phone call, or via private message (depending on the circumstances). You certainly don’t want people close to the deceased person to find out about their death online – that would make a difficult situation even harder.

2. Wait before you post

The first 24 hours after the loss of a loved one is often a period of shock and activity with planning for any funeral or memorial services. Additionally, you will be contacting any close family and friends with the news. That said, it’s best to wait a day or two before you put anything online. The wait will give you time to set the service details, contact people in person or over the phone, and personally process some of your own initial feelings of grief.

3. Use sensitive wording

With social media, people can read posts anytime throughout the day. So, it’s always good to add a bit of an introduction to your post so that people know you have sad news to share. That way, they have a bit of a heads up.

Here’s an example: “Family and friends, it is with great sadness that our family announces the passing of a very special person. I’m so sorry that you will hear the news this way, but our family wants to make sure everyone hears before the funeral.”

4. Remember that social platforms are a public space

As with any online posts or comments, don’t write anything you don’t want everyone to read. Consider all of the people who may read your post and be prepared to receive responses from them. When you post, you may want to include an obituary or memorial page to allow people to offer condolences and share memories freely.

5. What to include in a social media death announcement post

Finding the right words may feel a little overwhelming, and that’s okay. You can keep things simple. Just remember that you can make the post formal or casual, personal and sentimental or to the point. The format depends on your personality, but there are a few key pieces of information to include.

What to definitely include

  • Name of the deceased and relationship to you (the person posting)
  • Date of death
  • Time and location of any services: memorial, funeral, graveside, visitation/viewing, and/or reception/gathering (make sure to specify whether these events are public or private)
  • Any information about memorial donations
  • A favorite photo of your loved one (an individual photo, not a group)

As you consider what information to include, be mindful of your word choice. Also, try not to share too many details about the death (unless you want to). Focus on sharing positive memories and giving others an opportunity to share theirs. You might also consider linking to the obituary if it’s available.

Examples to help you get started

  • Many of you know that my father was struggling with cancer. While I’m sad to say that he is gone, I’m glad to say he is no longer suffering. He was a man of integrity who laughed often and loved hard. My mom, my brother, and I invite you to join us for a funeral service on (date) as we celebrate his life and what it meant to all of us.
  • It is with deep sorrow that we inform you of the death of a beloved husband and father, (insert name). We will have a private family memorial service followed by a public reception on (date). We would be pleased if you could join us at the reception to share memories and celebrate (name)’s life. Click here for more details (link to obituary).
  • Our family is deeply saddened to inform you that our beloved grandmother, (name), passed away in her sleep (day of week) night. She was a gem of a woman who has been a pillar of strength, love, and unity for our family her entire life. Her funeral service will be held on (day of week) at the (location name) in (location) at (time).

These examples are simply to get you started. Feel free to look up other examples online and customize the text with your own details and embellishments.

With these 5 tips, you can now decide what’s best for you and your family. If it makes sense, an announcement on social media allows you to:

  • honor your loved one’s life
  • inform their extended network about their passing
  • create an opportunity for a shared mourning experience

No matter what you decide, lean on each other and find the support you need for the days ahead.

Death & Social Media: 10 Dos and Don’ts for Social Platforms

By Grief/Loss, Technology and Grief

While social media lets us communicate with each other quickly and efficiently, it’s also a place where people seem to forget the social etiquette that governs our face to face interactions day in and day out. People often type things they would never say in a group of friends or at a family gathering, and those thoughtless words often hurt others, especially when it concerns the death of a loved one. But we can do better.

Below, we will discuss 10 Dos and Don’ts for discussing death and loss on social media platforms and how you can be a positive contributor to friends and family going through the loss of a loved one.

1. DO Wait for the Family to Post First

Always, always, always wait for close family members to announce the death before you post ANYTHING on social media about a death. If you aren’t a close family member (parent, spouse, sibling), it’s not your place to make the announcement unless you’ve been asked to do so. By waiting, you show your respect to the family and give them time to alert all family members personally about the death. Otherwise, some family members might hear about the death through social media.

Additionally, discussing the death online before the family does may add extra grief and stress to the family. They may not have planned to announce anything on social media at all, and now, you’ve forced them into a situation where they may receive many comments, private messages, phone calls, emails, and questions. This adds unnecessary complications to an already emotionally distressing time. And if the family never posts online, show your support by refraining from posting anything yourself or by at least waiting until the funeral has already taken place.

2. DO Get the Facts Right

If the family has made the death announcement, and you decide to post on social media, make sure that whatever information you share is correct, not hearsay or gossip. For example, you may have heard that the death was suicide-related, but that’s actually false. Not only is this mistake mortifying, it’s also traumatic for any family or friends who may believe your post.

Before sharing any facts, ask yourself two questions: 1) Did I receive my information from a close family member and know that it’s true? and 2) Am I the person to share this information or is there someone else more appropriate? If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and don’t post anything you can’t verify.

3. DO Consider the Best Way to Offer Condolences

It’s natural to offer condolences after a loss, but carefully consider how you go about offering your condolences. Consider your relationship to the deceased and to any immediate family members. Also, consider how you received the news of the death.

If you received the news on social media, offer condolences on a social media platform or an online memorial page. If you received a phone call or text, respond in kind. However, if you learned about the death online but would like to talk to someone, consider waiting to call. The family is dealing with the stress of planning a funeral and the emotional toll of losing a loved one. If every person called, it would be overwhelming in the first days following a loss. Instead, write a letter, send a text message, or private message to offer your condolences and then follow-up with a phone call at a later time, when things have calmed down a bit.

A final note – consider whether your condolences will bring comfort or further pain. If you have a poor, strained, or even volatile relationship with the grieving family, hold off on any contact. Put the family’s needs above your own desire to offer condolences and either say nothing or wait until emotions have settled.

4. DO Check Your Settings

As with anything on social media, be mindful of your audience. This is especially true when discussing death because it can be a very sensitive topic, especially if the cause of death is still under investigation or due to tragic or difficult circumstances. Before posting, carefully consider who all may see your post. Is there anyone you should block from being able to see it, like children or employers? Adjust your settings as needed or simply re-think whether your post is necessary at all.

5. DO Stop, Re-read, and Think Before You Post

As with anything you write, it’s always good practice to stop, read it again, and think before you hit send or post. By pausing, you give yourself a moment to look at what you’ve written with new eyes. Are you feeling very emotional and saying something you will regret later? How will any grieving friends or family feel after reading your message? Have you shared information that’s best kept private? Always use your best judgment before putting your words out into the world.

6. DON’T Be Nosy

We are all naturally curious people. Often, we simply want to know what happened, especially with an unexpected death. But ultimately, the family’s need for privacy is more important than any sense of curiosity. You can certainly hunt around on different social platforms or use a search browser to find whatever information you can, but refrain from asking the family questions or sharing anything you find online. Whatever the family wants others to know, they will share in person or on social media, and that should be enough.

7. DON’T Use Clichés or Platitudes

Too often we just don’t know what to say in the face of death, and that’s okay. For example, instead of saying, “They’re in a better place” or “I’m sure they wouldn’t want you to be sad,” find ways to offer genuine care and sympathy. For instance, “I’m so sorry this has happened” or “My heart hurts for you; I’m so sorry” would be better options. Strive to be tasteful and kind in your comments, offering the family encouragement and support.

For more help with phrases NOT to say to a grieving person, read 6 Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Person and 6 MORE Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Person.

8. DON’T Share Too Many Personal Details in Your Comments/Posts

This goes back to taking the lead from the family. If you know some details about the death that the family hasn’t shared, keep them to yourself (unless it involves a crime). If the family prefers not to discuss certain details online, honor their wishes by limiting the information you share. You definitely don’t want to infringe on the family’s privacy or try to pry sensitive and possibly painful details out of the family.

9. DON’T Constantly Tag the Deceased Person

While your intentions may be good, constantly tagging a lost loved one in online posts could be difficult for others to see. While sharing an image or a post or a video that reminded you of the person who has died might bring you a moment of peace, it could be harmful or disrespectful to the family as they grieve. It’s not that you can never tag the person – simply keep it to a minimum and be respectful and sensitive in your wording. After all, the image will still mean something special to you and remind you of the person you loved even if you never post it. For other ideas on how to keep a loved one’s memory alive, click here.

10. DON’T Make it About You

When you offer condolences online, try not to bring up your own personal hurts. Instead, keep the focus on your friend or family members. You may feel tempted to engage in “troubles talk” to find common ground with the other person so that you can, in some way, share the loss. But by talking about your own troubles, you turn the focus to your pain, not theirs. While you may have suffered a similar loss, it’s not the same. Different people, different relationships, different dynamics, different grief. Focus on offering words of support and encouragement. If they ask about your own loss, then feel free to share, but let them open that door.

Sometimes Offline is Better

While social media is great in so many ways, it’s not the place to work out your grief. If you have specific questions about the death or want to make a deeper connection with a member of the deceased’s family, take time in real life to do that. Some topics and discussions are just better and more appropriate in person or in private (whether that’s an email, a letter, or a phone call).

But no matter what you decide to do, remember that the family is going through a tough time. They need your support, your kindness, your encouragement, and your grace. Look for ways to offer your sympathy. Offer your gifts and talents as a resource. The family is embarking on the beginning of a journey through grief, and they need all of their kind and caring friends along the way.

6 Ways to Use Photos to Honor a Loved One

By COVID-19, Meaningful Funerals, Memorial, Technology and Grief

With the current guidelines on social distancing, we must find ways of honoring and memorializing a loved one other than gathering together for a funeral or memorial service. Consider these ideas for using photos to honor and remember your loved one’s life together, even if you have to be apart for the time being.

1. Personalize a Memorial Website with Photos

Sometimes, we aren’t all able to come together to honor a loved one’s life, which is why online options are perfect for those who can’t attend a funeral because they live far away or are dealing with unexpected circumstances. With a memorial website, you can personalize the look with meaningful photos and invite others to leave comments, stories, and their own photos of your loved one. If you’d rather not create a memorial website, you can create a memorial page on Facebook (or another social media platform) instead.

2. Make a Tribute Video

With a tribute video, you can use photos, audio clips, video clips, favorite quotes, and so much more to create a truly personal account of your loved one’s life. Whether at a memorial website or other social media platform, a tribute video adds a meaningful element. A video allows family and friends to reflect on their memories, receive comfort, and laugh or cry as they remember a loved one. Additionally, a tribute video can be a special keepsake to be watched for years to come.

3. Distribute a Sharing Link for Photos

Another way to include others in honoring a loved one digitally is through a photo-sharing site. In other words, create a place where people can view your photos and share their own. For instance, you can use Flickr, Dropbox, Facebook, or even Instagram (using a personalized hashtag) to facilitate photo viewing and sharing. By sharing photos in this way, you invite others to discuss their own memories of your loved one. As an added bonus, you get to see moments of your loved one’s life that you may never have known. Together, everyone will have a more complete view of your loved one’s life and can honor its significance.

4. Order a Memory Book

Memory books can be easily created online using apps that lay out your photos into a book format. You can either request that the photo book service arrange the book for you or you can personalize it yourself. Whichever option you choose, a memory book is a wonderful keepsake gift. You can create it simply for yourself or you can make it available to other family members who would enjoy it. A few popular services are Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Mixbook. If you’d prefer to create a scrapbook instead, feel free to do that as well!

5. Print Photos on Canvas

Another wonderful option for a memorial keepsake is to print some of your favorite photos on canvas. There are many services that will create a personalized canvas print for you. Simply put in the order online and wait for your print! Once the print arrives, you can place it in a special place in your home. Also, you might consider printing photos on canvas as a wonderful memorial keepsake or gift for loved ones.

6. Frame a Collage of Prints

Alternatively, you can order prints online and frame a collage of photos of your loved one for yourself or for a family member. This special remembrance will help you continue to honor the memories of your loved one in a very special way. And again, you can present the collage to family and friends as a keepsake item. Or, you can get together, in person or online, and each create your own photo collage. In this way, you can honor your loved one’s life while also sharing memories with those you love.

Whether you implement one or all these ideas, photos are an excellent way to personally and meaningfully honor a loved one’s life. After all, your loved one’s life is as completely unique as every photo that records their extraordinary life.

For ideas on how to use photos to personalize a funeral service, click here.

Technology and Your Grief Journey

By Grief/Loss, Technology and Grief

The technological developments of the 21st century have touched every aspect of lives, and the ways in which we deal with loss and cope with grief are transforming. The rise of social media and other technological advances have had an effect on the way that we navigate our grief journeys, and many people feel that cyberspace communication has the potential to aid in the grieving process. Here are some ways in which technological innovations can help you deal with grief.

Announcing the Loss

After a loss, it’s important to find a way to communicate the news of death as efficiently as possible. Of course, those closest to the deceased should be told in person, but there is less agreement on how the news should be spread to those outside of the inner circle. Online obituaries and social media sites allow the information to go out to the deceased’s entire social network of friends, which keeps you from having to make the painful announcement multiple times to different groups of people.

Most funeral homes post obituaries online, which can easily be shared across social media channels, helping the news get out to your social network much faster. What you don’t want is for a very close friend or family member to find out about the death on Facebook. Before making the post, take stock of who might be hurt by receiving the information on social media. Once you are sure that everyone who is closest to the deceased has been informed in person or by phone, then announce the loss on social media.

Receiving Social Support

Social media allows you to receive the support of loved ones both near and far. Caring words, condolences, and memories can all be shared by friends on social media. If you need time to yourself, you can read their messages at your own leisure; social media puts less pressure on you to respond immediately. You might post a tribute on the account that gives friends the opportunity to say a few words to honor the deceased or provide comfort. The loved one’s account can be turned into a memorial page, which mourners return to from time to time to express their feelings and honor the life. This online support network can be very beneficial to you as you begin your grief journey.

Crowdfunding Sites

Struggling to find a way to pay for a service? You can use crowdfunding websites to create a funeral campaign. Some of these websites are general fundraising platforms that can help you raise money for a funeral. GoFundMe.com in particular has become a very popular way to campaign for a service. Other websites such as Funeral Fund are specifically tailored to funeral fundraising. These sites provide efficient ways to receive the financial support that you or a loved one needs to craft a meaningful ceremony.

Memorial Websites

You may decide that you want to do more than a Facebook post to honor a loved one. If so, consider making a memorial webpage. Memorial websites such as Legacy, Remembered and Your Tribute allow you to create an online memorial that can be accessed for years to come. These sites allow you write tributes, add photos, and post videos of remembrance. The memorial website gives you an online space to return to periodically for reflection. Just as we return to the gravestone with flowers in hand to spend a few moments to remember, so too can we return to a memorial page to contemplate the life of a loved one.

Memorial Video Sites

Memorial video sites help you to create quality video content to honor the life and capture the spirit of your loved one. Perhaps the most popular of these sites is animoto, which is easy to use and allows you to create high-quality, professional-looking videos. Online tutorials are available, and the website will take you step-by-step through the process of making a great memorial video.

QR Code on Headstone

Want more information than you can fit on a headstone? Consider installing a QR code. By scanning this code with your smart phone, you can obtain additional information about the loved one online. QR codes can be linked to memorial webpages or online obituaries. This option provides a unique experience, allowing you to participate in the timeless tradition of visiting the headstone while getting the most out of 21st century technological advances. QR codes are worth considering if you are looking to create a highly personalized marker to honor your loved one.

A New Way of Grieving

Technological advances are creating a wide range of possibilities for communicating with others in times of grief. While having direct contact with people is essential, social media can also be a useful tool to help you on your grief journey. Through the use of online platforms, you can cultivate a support network, create online memorials that help you to reflect on and remember the life that was lived, expedite the process of spreading important news, and receive messages of encouragement in a way that doesn’t put pressure on you or anyone else who is grieving.

If you are struggling financially, crowdfunding websites can help you to get the support that you need to have a funeral for your loved one. If you are looking for special ways to memorialize your loved one, memorial websites, memorial videos, and QR codes can help you to craft a personalized tribute. Since technology is playing an increasingly important role in our everyday lives, it makes sense that it should also have its place in celebrating our lives and mourning our deaths.

Grief and Loss in the Digital Age

By Grief/Loss, Planning Tools, Technology and Grief

Is There Room for Technology in the Funeral Profession?

People often associate funeral homes with tradition, order, and family values. When they think of technology, they think innovation, variety, and convenience. These two sets of positive characteristics aren’t mutually exclusive. The reliability of the old fashioned, personable, customer service-oriented funeral home and the ease of technology can work in tandem to create a valuable service. Taking the best of the classical funeral experience and fusing it with the latest technological innovations can help us craft meaningful ceremonies for our loved ones.

Technology Used During the Service

In the 21st century, the funeral service has changed drastically. Whereas photographs of the deceased used to be displayed near the casket, they are now able to be projected on slideshows. Video and music capabilities have increased the level of personalization in the average funeral. Clips of the deceased or favorite songs are played to capture the spirit of a loved one. These developments illustrate technology’s potential to enrich a ceremony and aid in the grieving process.

Broadcasting a Funeral Service Online

Another innovation is the ability to stream a funeral service online. While this may not be the ideal way for loved ones to participate in the funeral (the communal aspect that is achieved when a group of people gather in a room should not be underestimated), it can be useful in some circumstances because it allows people in distant places to connect. For example, if a family member or friend is overseas and unable to attend the service, this kind of broadcast could be of great benefit.

Websites

Many funeral homes have now made the leap into cyberspace, building websites and online resources to meet the needs of the people they serve. These websites often contain obituaries, grief resources, aftercare information, and online forms for prearranging funerals. Sometimes, you are able to use the funeral home website to send flowers to those who are grieving. Visit your local funeral home’s website to see what services they offer and what resources they provide.

Social Media

Social media sites have changed the game by creating a public online platform on which people can honor the life of a loved one and pay their respects. Families might access the loved one’s account to post a final, meaningful tribute, and people can comment to show how the loved one touched them. In this way, social media can function as a giant support network, in which hundreds or even thousands of people receive the news of a loved one’s passing. Social media is a great additional step that you can take to connect with people that you care about during a time of loss.

Digital Funeral Planning

In addition to providing more information and buying options, technology can play an important role in funeral arrangements by facilitating more efficient communication with funeral directors. Passare, a new company that is designed to make funeral arranging easier on both the funeral director and the client, offers an online space that allows you to connect with your funeral director at any time and any place. All that you need is access to an electronic device. The online Collaboration Center is easily accessible and gives you a voice in the planning process.

Innovation

Exciting advances are regularly being made in the technological world. These advancements aren’t working to make funeral homes obsolete. Rather, they provide funeral directors with tools to better serve their clients. Those who are planning for a service can use the web as a valuable resource to become better informed and to choose the options that suit their personal needs. And of course, technology plays a role in the funeral service itself, which uses audio and video capabilities to enhance the service and capture the unique characteristics of the loved one. These innovations have the potential to positively shape the grieving process and help us to honor the lives of our loved ones.

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