Hands up. Who’s guilty of reaching for their mobile phone as soon as the alarm goes off in the morning?

Bleary eyed, you start swiping through your social media feeds to see what’s happened overnight. Aunty Joan has invited you (yet again!) to play Candy Crush. That I-only-met-him-once-years-ago-at-uni guy has posted another selfie at the gym. And your niece has shared the latest viral cat video that’s given her the giggles.

But every now and then, while you’re scrolling through what’s mostly mindless drivel, you come across something that can’t be ignored. A close friend has updated her status, saying her father has lost his battle with cancer.

The posts in reply flow through.

“RIP mate. We’ll miss you.”

“Vale my friend.”

Hashtags are created. RIPs fill feeds. And people feel the need to comment and express their deep-seated sense of grief and loss. The death is now a subject for social media comment, with all its abbreviated spellings, exclamation marks, emojis and hashtags.

But do you post your condolences online?

Social media has undoubtedly impacted the way we communicate with each other. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks are now a common way for many people to share news of a loved one’s death, offer condolences and memorialise the deceased.

If you’re thinking about using social media to express your grief, here are a few things to think about.

 

If you’re grieving …

  • Is the timing right? Have all your immediate family and close friends been notified? While posting about a death on social media may cut down on the number of phone calls you need to make, for some people finding out about the death of a loved one in such an impersonal way can be jarring and quite distressing.
  • What details should you disclose? Sharing news of a death on social media can open the door to lots of questions, some of which you may not be ready to answer. We all have different comfort levels when it comes to sharing details relating to a death, so before you post think about what questions you’re willing to answer.
  • Do you want a memorial page? For some, creating a memorial page can be a healing experience. It’s a way to feel connected to the person you’ve lost and feel supported by your community of family and friends. But it can also potentially be overwhelming as you try to accept the reality of the death and process your grief. Think about whether the memorial page will be public or private. Will you limit it to family and close friends? Or are you OK with it being open to your entire online community? And remember, it will always be there as a lasting reminder of your loved one.

 

If you’re supporting someone who’s grieving …

  • How will you offer your condolences? Emotions run high following a death, so take extra care to craft your words before posting your sympathies. Remember, your personal message will be open to public opinion and comment. Rather than saying too much online, you might like to keep it brief and then follow up with a personal email or phone call.
  • Should you create a memorial page? Before jumping in and creating a memorial page, make sure you check to see if the deceased’s family is OK with it. While it can feel proactive and supportive, it may also seem intrusive and overwhelming for those closest to the deceased.
  • Is posting the only way you can show support? A show of online support immediately following a death can bring great comfort. But that comfort can disappear all too quickly as the days and weeks pass. Don’t forget to reach out personally, rather than just ‘checking-in’ electronically.

 

Whether you’re grieving yourself or supporting someone else, it’s important to think about what you’re posting to social media. Always be mindful and aware of the language you use and the words you choose.

For more information about coping with grief, please contact the Walter Carter Funerals team by emailing community@waltercarter.com.au and we’ll help you find the services and resources you need.