Like us, many of you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (and others!). These networks are great for keeping in touch with family and friends, especially those we don't get to see so often. We also love being able to interact with our followers on a daily basis regardless of time or space. But in my business, I also see another side of social networking and that is what to do with your loved one’s account once they have passed away.
Social media after bereavement is tricky
Managing the bereavement process was hard enough before social media became a part of our everyday lives. Now, we must also take care of people's 'online' accounts too and the process (quickly) becomes quite tricky. From what I have experienced, it is a combination of two things:
The nature of the service
The number of others, like you, who are also trying to access loved one’s account information
The nature of the service
What I mean by the nature of the service is that social networks have a tendency to ‘hype’ things up. Because news travels so fast online, once one person comments or sends a bereavement message, suddenly another 10, 20 or even 50 people do the same. It can quickly spiral out of control. This can be incredibly upsetting for the deceased’s immediate family and to those who have not yet been properly informed. So in this situation, social media and bereavement are not a good match.
Too many at one time
So now try and pair this with how many others are in a similar kind of situation. Did you know that there are now 1.15 billion Facebook users worldwide? That’s almost 25 times the population of Australia. Of the 1.15 billion users, more than 1.2 million unfortunately pass away. It’s quite a large number to wrap your head around. So it’s understandable that networks like Facebook and Twitter have certain policies (although time consuming) in place that ensure that each situation is handled with the utmost of care.
Make a plan for friends and family
So how can we ease the process? If you are an avid social media fan the best thing you can do for your family is to have a plan in place that allows them to quickly resolve the situation should the time come. You could also start using free services like 1Password that use a 'Legacy Locker', a guaranteed way to pass your online information to the correct people should the time come. But the surest way to make it easier for everyone is by simply having a conversation with your close friends and family or including a written statement in your will.
Is this something you have had to deal with? Could the social networks have made it easier for you? Share your experiences with us.