Why We Shouldn’t Use Facebook to Memorialize Our Loved Ones

On October 10th, 2012, tenth-grader Amanda Todd posted a video on Youtube telling her audience about her experience being bullied and terrorized both online and in-person for the last few years.

Here are some photos from her hearbreaking video:

(click on either of the images below to view the video)





Sadly, just a few hours after Amanda Todd posted her Youtube video, she took her own life.

After Amanda’s death, her Facebook profile became a memorial page where people could share memories, send their condolences to their family, and write their “final goodbye”. Sounds innocent – almost comforting , right? Unfortunately  it wasn’t.

Amanda’s memorial page also became a place for people to bully her and write hateful messages like:

“She got into her situation voluntarily. She should’ve grown some &^?% and taken responsibility for her actions. She was bullied for $*%&^# another girls boyfriend. People kinda get $&%*# off over something like that. She deserves no sympathy or praise. She deserves nothing but death.”

“What a f$*&%^ p&$#$. Taking her own life She will be in hell for taking her life.”

“Yes we are glad that she is dead yay”

“She brought it on herself which is why I don’t feel bad”

As we can see from Amanda’s story, Facebook doesn’t always play a positive role in death and grieving.

I read an article on Mashable the other day called “How 1 Billion People Are Coping With Death and Facebook” which described social media (particularly Facebook) as a “vehicle for grieving” and “a source of memories and humor.”

The article raised some good points, but what we didn’t learn about are the stories like Amanda Todd’s that talk about what happens when Facebook memorialization goes wrong.

… And that’s what brings me to my point. I don’t think families, friends, or anyone should focus on Facebook when it comes to memorializing their loved one, and here’s why:

Offensive posts can ruin someone’s reputation

As we learned from Amanda Todd’s story, not everyone has something nice to say to you on Facebook after you pass away. When Amanda Todd’s memorial page was created, she had bullies writing horrible things about her while her family and friends had to sit back and let it happen without being able to control the page.

And it’s not just the inability to control rude posts that affects the bereaved, either.

One woman in the Mashable article had someone write a post to her deceased partner who was Atheist and once an alcoholic saying “’You’re drinking champagne in heaven with my grandfather right now,” after she passed. It’s posts like this that have me question whether or not Facebook pages should be kept “alive” after the user passes.

The Facebook world doesn’t stop for the dead

Another problem I see with Facebook and memorialization is that when someone passes away, the Facebook world doesn’t stop.

That means after someone in your life passes away, you could still be getting Farmville requests and  birthday notifications from them. I can’t think of anything more morbid than getting a birthday notification from someone you care about who is deceased, can you?

This awkward situation alone has the potential to hijack someone’s grief journey, and force them to start from the beginning. Just imagine… if someone wrote on your deceased loved one’s wall for their birthday (unaware of the fact that they passed), how would you handle it? Not very well, I’m guessing.

The family has no control on how their loved one is remembered

Do me a favor and look at some of the Facebook statuses you’ve posted in the past. Did you find any embarassing photos or negative, snarky remarks that you aren’t totally comfortable with? Would you want to be remembered by those posts? Chances are, probably not.

And unfortunately, because of some pretty strict Facebook policies, no one is entitled to access control of the deceased person’s Facebook profile. This make’s for a sticky situation, especially when it comes to suicides. What if that person posted a negative comment or an inappropriate photo? No one wants their loved one to be remembered like that.

Not everyone can share their memories or condolences

When someone passes away, many people write on that person’s Facebook wall to share memories or send condolences. And those messages, in my opinion, are important for the bereaved friends and family to see. They’ll make them feel like they have support from more people than they ever imagined.

But how do we know the family will see those messages and memories? Not everyone has Facebook, and as we learned before, only the deceased’s Facebook friends can choose to write on that person’s wall.

Limiting the amount of people who can show support and love for the family of a loved one doesn’t sound right to me, particularly when the death is a significant event in the community. In a world where social media plays such a huge role in our life, should we be limited to how we grieve the dead on Facebook? In my opinion, that answer is no.

What’s the solution?

While Facebook has proved to be useful for those grieving, it’s still flawed. With today’s social media-obsessed society, there’s got to  be another solution that allows the deceased to be memorialized online.

So what if you, the funeral professional, could facilitate that conversation? Thanks to the rise socially powered memorial websites, that opportunity has risen.


Here’s an example of a social memorial website.

Notice the amount of activity on the page: 349 Likes, hundreds of comments, candles lit and photos shared!



Photo credit: B.C. Bailey Funeral Home


Why social memorial websites work

I think memorializing a loved one on a socially powered memorial websites is the future for a few reasons:

– The memorial website can be seen by anyone, not just friends and family.
– Depending on the website the family chooses, they have the option to delete or edit negative or inappropriate comments.
– When words aren’t enough, people can choose to light a candle or even purchase a sympathy gift or flowers for the bereaved family, all from the social memorial website.
– The social memorial website will stay live forever, unlike Facebook, where only friends and family can see them.
– Most social memorial websites list the visitation and service times, eliminating the need for supporters to scour Google for them.

And most of all, social memorial websites allow your funeral home to position yourself as a grief resource for your families. You’ll be able to maximize the benefits of using social media to grieve by helping the family create the ultimate permanent memorial that can be accessed for generations to come – and it’s complete with the obituary, photos, videos, and even a family tree.

While Facebook does allow us to remember our loved ones after they pass, I believe social memorial websites are the future of memorialization. It’s our job as funeral professionals to help our families heal, and I truly feel that social memorial websites are what will help them begin their grief journey.


What do you think? Is Facebook a good place to memorialize someone, or are social memorial websites a better solution? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


To learn more about funeralOne’s website platform, f1Connect, or social memorial websites, click here or call 1-800-798-2575.






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