Social Media And Mourning A Loved One

We live in a society where your smartphone is an extension of your hand and everyone feels the need to share photos and check-in online. But, when it comes to funerals and mourning, a new set of rules comes into play. What you should always remember is to respect the wishes of the family who lost someone close to them. 

The way people react on social media has been the focus of much commentary as of late, particularly in the aftermath of mass tragedies like the Orlando nightclub shooting or high-profile celebrity deaths. It is important to remember that you need to possess tact when you approach a sensitive subject. Just last week, the New York Knicks were the focus of an altercation between former player Charles Oakley and Madison Square Garden security. Shortly thereafter, the Knicks PR department suggested "he gets some help soon" implying he had a serious problem. Since the details of the incident were still unclear at the time, fans suggested that it was unnecessary to post about the situation so quickly. In my opinion, the reaction from a professional organization was tasteless and it seemed that many fans felt similarly.

Many people are open to sharing some of life's most private events online and some say that Facebook and Twitter have offered glimpses into aspects of our lives that had normally been restricted to private spheres. For example, this funeral in Ghana consisted of a full-on dance routine.

Honestly, I had no idea that this even existed. (side note: I would not want this to happen at my funeral)

Most people generally respect boundaries and won't post anything online when they are attending a funeral or dealing with a sensitive issue like drug & alcohol abuse. The same can't be said for people who think taking a selfie with their family member lying in the casket is something that should be shared on your Facebook profile. (A quick Google search will show you many photos like this)

However, it is important to remember that you're not there to capture memories with friends and family you haven't seen in a long time. You're especially not there to check in on Facebook and share that you are "feeling emotional". There is no need to snap a shot of someone who is mourning or have them be reminded every year as you share it from your "On This Day" posts. Those in attendance should be allowed to have their private moments and mourn without the distraction of social media post popping up.

Anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one firsthand can sympathize with the situation and understand how uncomfortable the subject can be. Calling attention to it on social media only complicates interactions that are already awkward. So be mindful of what your post means and use caution when it comes to mourning on social media.