Death in the Digital Age - Tips from Alive Hospice

Death in the Digital Age - Tips from Alive Hospice

One of the hardest facts to accept about ourselves is also the simplest: you are going to die. One day, hopefully far in the future but assuredly approaching, you will cease to exist on earth. Whatever you believe happens next, the fact that you will no longer be with us is inescapable.

 

Unless you go on social media.

 

Your digital twin, the online replica of yourself curated through social media, can live on forever through the accounts you created while you were alive. Whether you see a birthday reminder or you’re tagging a lost loved one in a photo, it’s tough to know what is appropriate on social media after someone has died. That’s why we asked Alive Hospice, a pioneer in the “good death” movement, how to navigate death on social media.

 

A few years ago, people found out about deaths by word of mouth or obituaries written by the family. Condolences would be shared face-to-face or through the post. Today, social media has revolutionized the way we communicate, even about the most sensitive topics. While there is no etiquette book for handling loss and grief on Facebook, Alive offers some guidelines that can help.

 

 

Social Media Do’s and Don’ts When Someone Has Died:

 

Do:

  • Offer condolences in a private message, email, or text
  • Share a warm memory or a status a close family member has already posted
  • Tell a story that reflects your loved one’s life rather than their death. Sharing joyful memories is a powerful way to help yourself and others heal.

Don’t:

  • Be the first to make a post without permission from the deceased’s close family
  • Share graphic or overly personal details about a person’s death
  • Post platitudes; if you reach out, do it from the heart

 

 

How Social Media Can Help:

  • Connection: People who are grieving can support one another through discussion on posts as well as in forums and groups specific to loss. This is especially helpful if the griever feels like no one else in their circle fully understands their loss.

 

  • Legacy: A Facebook page can be converted into a memorial page so people can still post messages on hard days or holidays.

 

  • Advocacy: Many people who experience a loss find meaning and purpose when they can make a difference through fundraising or advocacy work. Some find comfort promoting a cause on social media.

 

Social media can be an extremely powerful tool for processing grief, but it will never take the place of sharing your love and concern in person. If you have a grieving friend, use social media mindfully, but don’t stop there when it comes to showing support.

 

If you or a family member needs support, contact Alive’s grief support team at 615-963-4732. Our donor-funded services are affordable and available to the entire Middle Tennessee community.

 

About Alive

Alive is the only nonprofit provider of hospice care and end-of-life services in Middle Tennessee. Its mission is to provide loving care for people with life-threatening illnesses, support to their families, and service to the community in a spirit of enriching lives. This includes in-home and in-patient hospice care, grief support, advance care planning, outreach, support to underserved communities, education, financial assistance, a comprehensive volunteer program, and professional training through the Alive Institute. A pioneer in the “good death” movement, Alive established the third hospice in the nation in 1975. Today, it remains true to its roots as an innovator and leader, helping individuals Adapt to Life Limiting Illnesses Very Effectively (ALIVE). To learn more or volunteer, visit AliveHospice.org or call 615-327-1085.

 

 

 

 

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