We're on social media all the time. But, that doesn't mean that it's easy to figure out what to say after a loved one dies.
After my dad died, one of the first things I did was get onto social media, post a photo of him and me, and briefly explain what had happened. While some people may be confused as to why I did that so fast, looking back I've realized that it actually made the most sense.
The first few days after my dad's death, I missed a lot of school. I hardly answered texts. I was barely myself. It wasn't really fun to respond to "What's wrong?" with "Well, you see, my dad just died." By posting on social media, I was drastically lowering the number of times I had to tell people, making life a lot better for me.
I also received a lot of support after my dad's death. While I'm sure that the people closest to me would've found out about my dad's death anyway, I got a lot of assistance from friends I hadn't spoken to awhile and kids who had just smiled at me in the hallway in previous years, which I still credit to posting about my dad's death.
When your loved one dies, it's up to you if you post on social media about it. While it was beneficial to me, it's still something that I would only recommend you do if you feel comfortable. And, if you feel comfortable... how do you do it?
Think of what you want to share.
On my post for my dad, I barely said anything about how he died, what was going on, and all of that. Instead, I wrote just around one sentence, from which I knew people would realize my dad. had died. That was my personal choice: I didn't feel the need to tell everyone what had happened, how my family was doing, or anything else. I've never shared a ton on social media, so it just felt better to me to not say much.
If you don't want to say a lot, think of a short message you can write. Sometimes, people write their posts directed at their loved ones. Or, they write them as a way of briefly explaining the situation, such as saying "On Monday, my dad passed away." You can just leave it at that if you want, or explain a bit more.
A short message may not seem enough to you, though, and if that's the case, you can write a long message. Some people think that it's therapeutic to explain what has happened on social media, and as long as you have an adult's permission in your family to explain the situation, you can. In a longer message, you can mention things like how your loved one died, how you're feeling, what your plan is for returning to school and "normal" life, and more.
No matter what size message you have, you can also end it with a call to action (Otherwise known as "the thing you want people to do"). You can tell people when the funeral is if you want them to attend, how they can help, or anything else you and your family need. You can also mention if you'll be missing school, not be responding to texts, or be absent from your other usual activities.
When writing these messages, remember that you also have the option of just posting a photo without a caption. It may be hard at first to talk about what's going on, and if you aren't ready for that, you can just post a captionless photo.
Choose a photo.
Depending on which site you put your post, you may need a photo to go along with your message. There are many options you can use for a photo.
When I did my post, I put the last photo my dad and I had together, which made the most sense to me. You can post any photo of you and your loved one, or just your loved one, if you want.
If you don't want to share photos of you or them, there are other things you can do. You can share a photo of their favorite place, something they loved, or another significant thing to them. Or, you can choose something like an all black image, or replace that with whatever their favorite color was.
Another option is writing out your message on something like an Apple Notes page and screenshotting it, posting that screenshot. This is good if you don't know what message to write, and want to make sure people read your message, and don't just scroll past the photo without seeing the caption.
Decide when to post.
I posted my message about my dad's death about two days after he died. By then, most of the people around me already knew, but I still felt like I needed to let people know why I was going to be different for awhile.
It's up to you when you decide to post about your loved one's death. For me, it made a lot more sense to wait a few days, because the first two I was overwhelmed with what was going on and didn't really have time to respond to many, many messages.
That's the other thing about when you post: Be ready to get a few messages. While not everyone messaged me, a few people did, and I found myself feeling like I had to respond to texts that I didn't want to. It may be useful to wait a few days to post, just so when you receive support you're ready to get it (unless you find yourself needing all of that support right away). But, people will understand if you don't get back to their texts right away, and it's okay to not respond to everyone if you don't feel like it.
Also, depending on when you find out about the death of your loved one, I'd recommend waiting to post until you're completely sure that your family has already found out. It may take a few hours for all of your close family, and even friends, to realize what has happened, and that's not something people close to your loved one probably want to find out through Instagram.
If you feel ready to post on social media about the death of your loved one, it can be really therapeutic and helpful. Hopefully this guide helped you create that post.
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Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Photo by NeONBRAND.