Senior Wellness: Social media's impact on grieving

Senior Wellness: Social media and grief

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - It may be the first place you go when you have a bit of good news, but social media isn't always the best option when it comes to sharing grief.

Each person experiences grief differently and what may seem harmless to one person could actually cause emotional pain to another experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one. 

There are a number of things to keep in mind when sharing online. The first is to "pause before posting." Think about how your response online will affect others. For some it is comforting to get a show of support, but for others, each new notification is just another reminder of their loss. You should also allow the family to take the lead when it comes to posting online. Make sure everyone has been contacted personally before anything is posted on social media. If the family isn't posting, you probably shouldn't be either. 

The circumstances of a death also hve an impact on how you should react online. In the case of someone with a prolonged illness, families will often have a dedicated page or group to provide updates and receive support.

Some other tips include: 

Stay positive: Make sure your stories don't upset or offend someone. 

Don't overshare: Be considerate of how many posts about the topic you share. Sharing too much can complicate the grief process. 

Avoid tagging: In the same way sharing too often, tagging someone who has died in a post can trigger complicated emotions from family and friends of the person who is now gone.

It's okay to unfriend: You are allowed to unfriend or unfollow a person who has died. The constant reminder of their life and death can be difficult as you grieve. 

Social media can be a minefield when it comes to dealing with grief; however, it can also help provide support groups for specific kinds of loss and provide a connection to a community. 

The biggest thing to remember about your online presence when it comes to grief is that it isn't the best thing. Don't let a comment on Facebook or Twitter be the extent of your support. People still need phones calls, visits, and sometimes a hug from someone who cares about them. 

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