Here at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park & Funeral Home, our neighbors in the Bay Area often ask about how to use social media appropriately when a loved one dies. Questions include, “How soon is too soon to announce news of a death?” “What should I say when I post about it?” “Is it okay to ‘check in’ from a funeral?” “If I do, can I tag friends and family?”
To be sure, publishing a social media post after a loss can offer friends and family an efficient way to spread the news about a loss, including service information. It also gives them an outlet for their grief and a chance to publicly memorialize the life that was lived. After a loss, emotions run high, and it can be easy to share your emotions quickly online. But there are considerations to make along the way in order to show respect and care for the family.
Our team has put together our top pieces of advice:
DO follow the family’s lead.
Always wait for the closest family members to share first on their social media channels. They might not do so immediately; they may be in shock and busy making arrangements with the funeral home. But the timing of making the news public should be on their terms. This also means you should refrain from posting a note of condolence to their Facebook page until they have announced the death.
DO express sympathy in a tasteful way. After someone has written about the death of a loved one on social media, it’s appropriate to comment with a word of sympathy. A simple, “I’m so sorry to hear about this,” or “We’re thinking of your family during this difficult time,” will suffice, unless you had a close relationship and want to offer a more personal message. If you find yourself at a loss for words, there’s also the option to post an appropriate photo.
DO pause before you post. If you’re feeling emotional and are about to share a heartfelt message on your page, consider whether your words could upset grieving friends or family. Also, though it may seem obvious, it’s imperative to get your facts straight when sharing on social media. This includes details about the person who died, logistics about the funeral, and information about the family. We can’t say it enough: Always be mindful of the content you’re posting. Also consider this when checking in at a service. If you do check in, be sure you do it in a respectful way. We do not recommend tagging the family in the post or taking or posting photos of the service without prior permission from the family. Use your best judgment to determine if it’s appropriate to even ask.
DON’T share too many personal details on a public page. You may have the best intentions to show support and care for the family who is grieving, but take care not to infringe on their privacy. Prying for details or asking how the death occurred really should be considered off limits. By the same token, if you have somehow learned private details about the death, it’s not your place to put that information out there. It’s simply not your story to tell.
DON’T post clichéd sayings. We know it can be difficult to find the right words to say after someone dies, but refrain from sharing these platitudes: “He/She is in a better place.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “God never gives us more than we can handle.” “God must have needed him/her more than we do.” Instead, celebrate their personality and character with sensitivity and kindness.
For more information about funeral etiquette and the services Cypress Lawn offers, be sure to check additional blog posts and our Facebook page. We’re here for your family, and you can always reach out to us with questions.