In today’s age of social media, when a loved one dies, their Facebook page typically becomes a place where people can go to post photos, share stories, or just connect with other friends and support each other through the process of coping with grief.
We wrote about the topic of grief and social media a little while back, and with the growing popularity of Facebook memorial walls among younger generations, we thought it would be appropriate to address the DOs and DON’Ts of running, and sharing on a memorial Facebook wall.
Things You “DO” Want to Consider when Creating a Memorial Page on Facebook
First, 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.
If you decided it is appropriate for them and you’re wondering how to create a memorial page on Facebook, then follow this link. You will be prompted to complete the Facebook Memorialization Request form to turn the deceased timeline into a Facebook memorial page. This link will take you directly to the form to fill out giving Facebook the necessary information and permission to create the memorial page.
Once the account is memorialized:
- Friends and family will be able to continue to post their memories and stories on the page, depending on privacy settings.
- Your loved one’s content can remain visible to the friends and family with whom it was originally shared. This includes photos and posts.
- The memorial Facebook page will no longer show up in suggestions for “People You May Know,” ads, or birthday reminders.
- No one will be able to login to the account.
- If the person who has died was the admin of a group, the group will be able to choose a new admin.
- The word “Remembering” will be displayed on the profile of the person who passed, alongside their name.
Creating Facebook Memorial Pages and Legacy Contacts
If the deceased created a “legacy contact”—someone they chose to look after their account should it be memorialized— the legacy contact will have additional options on the Facebook memorial page:
- Respond to friend requests: From the profile of the Facebook memorial page. In the bottom right of the cover photo click “manage.” A menu will open which will allow you to add a pinned post, respond to new friend requests, and change the profile picture and cover photo.
- Create a memorial post and pin it to the top of your loved one’s profile.
- Ensure that your loved one’s profile and cover photo are respectful and appropriate for a memorial wall.
- Download a copy of what was shared on Facebook.
Even if your loved one did not select a legacy contact, you can still complete a Facebook memorial by completing the memorialization request form; you will simply have fewer options regarding how to memorialize their profile and what happens to their photos and notes.
If you would like to set up a legacy contact for your Facebook account, the following steps clarify the instructions on the official Facebook help article:
- Click the dropdown arrow in the top right corner of the page.
- Choose the “Settings” option.
- The second option in the left-hand sidebar on the “Settings” page is “Security.” This will open the “Security Settings” page.
- The second-to-last option on the “Security Settings” page is “Legacy Contact.” Edit the “Legacy Contact” option.
- Typing in the name of a Facebook “friend” in the “Choose a friend” input box will bring up the account of the contact for you to add.
Notes on Legacy Contacts:
- According to Facebook: “Your legacy contact won’t be notified until your account is memorialized, but you’ll have the option to send them a message right away.”
- This section of the “Security Settings” page also presents the option to have your account deleted permanently after Facebook is notified of your passing.
- You must be 18 or older to select a legacy contact.
Facebook Memorial Groups
If your loved one opted to have their account deleted, friends and family can still make a group. Follow these steps to create a Facebook memorial group:
- Click the option “Create Group” beneath “Groups” in the left sidebar for your Facebook account
- A popup window will appear, giving you the chance to name your group and add any members you want. You can also set privacy settings here.
- Click the “Create” button when you’re finished, and Facebook will take you to the group.
- The group will have a gear icon at the top right to edit settings where you will be able to upload a picture for the group. You can also set up a group email, description, and tags.
- Additionally, Facebook provides a secret options for groups: “Certain groups on Facebook are Secret and may not appear in search results. You can see them once a group member adds you.”
- Once your group is set up, it’s time to start inviting friends and family to your loved one’s memorial group on Facebook.
Memorial Page on Facebook—The “DON’Ts”
After you have created the Facebook memorial page, all that remains is to share stories, thoughts, and to celebrate the life of your loved one. Keep the following in mind to ensure that your posts are respectful and help others continue the celebration of a beautiful life:
- Don’t overshare on the memorial page. Keep your posts short and sweet, just like you would on any other person’s Facebook wall.
- Don’t comment on a link to a memorial wall. Actually visit the Facebook page and post memories there. That way everyone can read your sentiment.
- Don’t 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.
- Don’t forget to be respectful. A Facebook Memorial is not the appropriate place to post a photo of the deceased shotgunning a beer on Spring Break. Show some restraint and post photos and memories that honor your loved one’s life as well as their right to privacy.
- The grief of loss is an intensely personal experience for everyone touched by it. Be careful not to speak over other people in general. Allow family and friends to have their personal expressions, and let them stand on their own. While you don’t want to define the memorial Facebook page with a tasteless representation of the deceased, it doesn’t help the grieving process to censor friends and family when they break the rules of etiquette. Forgiveness and understanding go a long way in the grieving process.
Overall, treat a Facebook memorial account as a safe area to visit, a place to remember your friend or family member fondly. Treat others that visit the site with reverence and kindness, and the Facebook memorial can become a healthy place for mourning the loss of a loved one.
If you need help with sharing the news of a death on social media, take a look at this article on accouncing the death of a loved one on Facebook for advice.