Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people all over the world almost instantly. Facebook posts are a quick way to share the news with all of your connections at once. However, not all news is always good news. While you’re scrolling through graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, and birth announcements, you may also come across posts expressing the loss of a family member or friend.
Grief is something many people have trouble dealing with. What do you say to someone who has just lost a loved one? And more so, what is the appropriate response in an online environment?
First of all, simply acknowledging their loss is a good place to start. Click the "like” (or "sad”) button to let them know you’ve seen their post. They aren’t necessarily looking for everyone to comment, but just to know they’re not alone and others know what’s going on.
If you do leave a comment, make it brief yet thoughtful. Refrain from asking what happened or sharing your own stories of loss. Focus on them in their time of need. Show your sympathy through a simple statement such as:
- "I’m so sorry for your loss."
- "Your [mother/brother/aunt/friend] was a wonderful person, and s/he will be missed."
- "Sending my condolences to you and your family."
Avoid messages such as "They’re in a better place now” or "Now they’re free from pain” – while true, they won’t necessarily make someone feel better. If it is someone you are close to, you may want to give them a call to follow up and see if there is anything you can do or anything they need.
Remember that loss is not a once-and-done event. Keep in touch and check in during the weeks and months to come to see how they’re doing and offer your support – even if it’s through a Facebook post.