“Since Facebook memorial walls are becoming ever more popular with younger generations, it’s something that we at Hospice of Santa Barbara would like to address,” said Steve Jacobsen, Executive Director of Hospice of Santa Barbara. “Increasingly, we’re finding that Facebook serves as a source of comfort for many people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. These online tributes can be powerful tools for bereaved people to communicate with each other and to act as a bridge with others.”
An additional benefit is that it can contribute to the grieving communication process. It is very easy to feel compelled to ‘stop talking about it’ once the funeral has taken place when successful grieving normally requires a much longer period of active remembering. An online memorial where friends and family can all tell their stories and express their feelings of loss over the ‘medium term’ can help everyone manage their grief effectively together.
In light of this, here are some important “do’s and don’ts” of running and sharing a memorial Facebook wall.
- Decide whether the deceased would like to have their Facebook page remain “active.” If they were more private and didn’t use their Facebook account regularly, a memorial page may not be the appropriate thing to do in their situation.
- Contact Facebook when a loved one dies to ensure that their Facebook page can be turned into a memorial page. There is a form that you will have to fill out and then Facebook will turn their current Facebook page into a memorial page.
- Share stories and photos on their wall. When you share, it encourages others to do the same, making the wall a living memorial of their life.
- Post a link to your loved one’s memorial page on your page. Sometimes it can take a while before news reaches people’s ears, so posting the link to their memorial wall will let sensitively announce their death and encourage people to express their grief.
- Keep the page up as long as you feel comfortable. There is limitless space on the internet, so removing their page doesn’t “free up” space for someone else. There is no expiration date for grief. If you like, you can keep the memorial page up forever.
- Over share on the memorial wall. Keep your posts short and sweet, just like you would on any other person’s Facebook wall.
- Comment on a link to a memorial wall. Actually visit the Facebook page and post memories there, that way, everyone can read your sentiment.
- Use the wall for anything other than expressing your memories and grief. All too often, people feel safe making personal attacks on the internet. If the deceased had a friend or relative you did not get along with, do not make rude or aggressive comments towards that person on your loved one’s Facebook wall.
- Be disrespectful. Show some restraint and post photos and memories that honor your loved one’s life as well as their right to privacy.
Overall, treat a memorial place as a safe area to visit to remember your friend or family member fondly. Treat others that visit the site with reverence and kindness and the Facebook memorial wall can become a healthy place for mourning the loss of a loved one.
Hospice of Santa Barbara “volunteers” its free professional counseling and care management services to more than 500 children and adults every month who are experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness, or grieving the death of a loved one. Hospice of Santa Barbara is also present on seven local middle and high school campuses to work with children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call (805) 563-8820 or visit the website.