Death In A Digital World: Memorialising A Facebook Profile

Grief in a digital world

In the past ten years the process of grieving has changed with the arrival of social media sites.

With death a reality for all and over 2.4 million Irish users on Facebook, the day will come, if not already, when you lose someone who had an active Facebook account.

Death In a Digital World

Dealing with death in the digital age is new for all of us. In the offline world when someone dies and it is our first time to experience it, we turn to a parent or friend to guide us through the customs and protocols we need to follow. Grieving in the online world however is different with no etiquette or guidelines to help us so we flounder around as we try to figure it out.

When someone we know dies who had an active Facebook account, depending on their privacy settings, it is possible to post condolences or a message on their profile. For many it offers a source of comfort to have a place to express their feelings of sadness and to do so with others who want to remember the deceased in the same way.

On the other hand there are those who think it disrespectful to post anything on the deceased’s profile believing it trivialises a time of great loss and sorrow which should be reserved for the privacy of the offline  world.

What To Do With a Deceased’s Facebook Profile 

Whatever your feelings on this very sensitive issue a common denominator for all those left behind is the question of what to do with the deceased’s social sites.

With death a topic most of us avoid discussing anyway, the subject of what we’d like to have happen with our Facebook profile after we die is rarely top of the conversation list.

What happens after an active Facebook user dies is their profile remains active for as long as no action is taken.  Until then, friends will continue to receive birthday reminders while others will be prompted to connect with the deceased via the ‘People You May Know’ feature.

Removing or Memorialising a Facebook Profile 

The action you can take if you are a friend or family member is:

  • Request Facebook to remove the profile or
  • Have the profile memorialised

To remove a profile completely click here for details on what you need to do.  If however, your wish or that of the deceased is to keep the profile live, you can have it memorialised.

After a profile is memorialised the word ‘Remembering’ is placed directly above the deceased’s name as in the example below.  Facebook friends will no longer receive birthday reminders and the profile will not appear in the ‘People You May Know’ feature.

Facebook Memorialized Profile

Important to note is once the process is completed no one can log in to the account (even if you had log in details previously). To send a request through to Facebook to have an account memorialised, click here.

Requests are processed quickly by Facebook (approximately 48 hours) with a follow-up email sent out similar to the one below

Facebook Memorial Request Acknowledgement

 On a final note, if you haven’t already done so, ask yourself what you want to happen to your social sites after you’ve gone and share it with someone else.

Carole Smith, SynNeoCarole Smith is a coach, digital marketer and also a professional counsellor who has worked with people dealing with grief and loss.

To contact Carole, E: info@synneo.ie | T: 353 1 547 7884 | W: www.synneo.ie

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