Grieving in the Digital Era (1/23)

Death reconnects people. I witness this firsthand. So, too, did I deeply experience this when my dad died. News of someone dying brings forth a bevy of well-intended comments. Such comments from friends mostly are perfectly timed, beautifully sympathetic and marvelously healing. However, other remarks can be wildly misunderstood and sometimes terribly insensitive.

When used smartly, social media presents a powerful platform for expressing kindness and encouragement.

Kindly permit me to offer a few tips for expressing sympathy in the digital era.

Treat Others Like You Would Like to Be Treated. Always. 

  • No one wants to learn the news of the death of a family member through a social media post or a text. If you heard about the death secondhand, verify it before you do anything else. Gather the facts. Even after confirming the death, it usually is far more sensitive to reply to a family member’s post sharing the death than to post a comment on your own page about it.
  • The funeral arrangements rightly are decided by the family. Unless they ask you for advice, don’t say or comment on their decisions. They are none of your business. Respect and honor their requests exactly as you would want others to do for you.
  • It is not about you and nor it is about your loss. Resist the temptation to compare your grief with another’s heartache. Sadly, there is not space enough to list the entirety of senseless comments I have heard and read comparing the death of one’s beloved to their own pet’s departure, family struggle or other personal plight. Keep it short and simple. Express your sorrow, send your love and pray your prayers (if you promise to do so).