When to Announce Someone has Died via Facebook, a Primer

Dear PRIMcess,

A dear friend, actually a member of our immediate community, has recently passed away.  A mutual friend called to let me know, and I have several other friends and acquaintances that knew this person and would want to be made aware.  I know the immediate family has been informed, but I feel uncomfortable posting this news on my Facebook feed.  How to proceed?

Sad in Syracuse

Dear Sad,

First, my condolences.  Obviously I don’t know you, or your friend, but it is always heartbreaking to lose someone close.

Now, on to your question.  The best thing to do, of course, is when you receive this news, ASK!  Ask who knows, ask if you can spread the news (without acting like you are trying to get a scoop for TMZ here, okay), ask if you can post on your social media page.

Now, say that horse is already out of the barn.  You, in your shock and dismay, forgot to ask about spreading the news, and don’t feel comfortable calling the newsbreaker back to ask.   Become a stalker.  Check out the social media sites of your friend’s very closest friends and family.  When THEY announce it, then either share their announcement to get the news to your social circle or post at that point to your own page.

I would let 24-48 hours go by and if no announcement is forthcoming from that quarter, then perhaps, and only perhaps, would I do a respectful post on my own page, something along the line of “Heard the worst news, Mrs. McGillicuddy, who many of your know via her work with feral hedgehogs, passed away recently.”  If you are aware of rememberence requests, or a scheduled service, include that.  I would also tag, if I had the ability, someone that is closer to the deceased than I am, so there is no feeling of you going behind the family’s back.

Now that I have given my two cents, what do you think?  Talk about a sensitive area!  Social media is a great way to communicate and get news, such as this, out to the people who will care most.  But family members, who understandably may feel a bit raw and emotional, may be insulted that mom’s memorial service announcement appears between beer pong photos and what you had for dinner tonight.