Your gain: We’re going to talk about the effects of social media on grief, both the good and the bad! While social media can be such a positively powerful tool, when it comes to grief, it can actually hinder our healing.
Grief is a deeply personal journey, and the influence of social media is just one aspect of this very complex experience. With the invention and rise of social media, this journey has taken on a whole new dimension. Social media, for better or worse, has become intertwined with the grieving process, offering both opportunities and challenges to those who find themselves mourning the loss of a loved one.
So, how can you both utilize it to your advantage while not venturing into the grey area of making your grief worse? We’ll get into that today!
While it can offer solace and connection, it’s essential to be aware of the potential pitfalls of social media. Point being, finding a balance that supports your unique grieving needs. In the digital age, our journey through grief may be reshaped. But, it’s important to remember we’re on our own unique path to healing and remembrance, and that must always be the focus.
If this is a balance you’re struggling with, I invite you to read on!
The Role of Social Media in Grief
Social media has a multifaceted impact on the grieving process. How? Let’s talk about it!
Virtual Communities and Support
What’s super special about social media is that it can connect people across vast distances, country to country, providing a platform for sharing experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Grief can often make you feel very isolated. These online communities offer a sense of belonging with others who have a shared experience, and can offer solace, empathy, and shared understanding.
Social media offers a platform for creating digital memorials and tributes to those we’ve lost. Photos, stories, and heartfelt messages and memories can be shared, which helps us immortalize the memory of our person (or people!). This can be a beautiful way to preserve the legacy of a loved one.
This one, frankly, is both a pro and con for me, personally. Social media can quickly spread information about a person’s passing and funeral arrangements, ensuring that friends and family are informed and can participate in commemorating the deceased. That’s a beautiful way to connect with a lot of people at once, and so everyone is in the loop.
It can also raise awareness about struggles related to grief and bereavement, and I’m ALL about that transparency!
Social Media Faux-Pas
However, social media can also lead to some questionable information-sharing practices. In my experience, when my mom died, she hadn’t even been gone two days before a family member posted about her death on Facebook. They tagged her profile, and if you know how Facebook works, then you know the post then shows up on the tagged person’s profile, too. The thing was, my dad and I hadn’t even had a chance to tell all of my mom’s friends yet as we were still trying to process it all ourselves. And, we wanted to be able to tell them in a thoughtful way.
By this person going rogue, in a way, and taking this opportunity from us, this is how some people found out she died. That never sat well with my dad and I, and as the ones who had been caring for her and by her side the entire time (this family member wasn’t, let’s just say that), this deeply hurt our feelings. We also felt really bad that this was how some of her dear friends had to find out.
So, while the sharing of key details of a memorial or thoughts you have on the loss or your grief can be very cathartic, there are definitely things to watch out for when it comes to posting on social media – perhaps prematurely, too. Have you experienced anything like this?
Expression of Grief
That said, on a similar note, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that writing and sharing about your grief on social media can serve as a therapeutic outlet. I also love that it opens the door for others to feel comfortable to do the same–what a gift!? I mean, this is quite literally what I’ve done with Losses Become Gains.
This all started as a humble blog and Instagram page, just trying to help others and get the word out and validate how difficult grief can be. Little did I know the community it would come to create. One where so many of us can share our experiences, thoughts, and similar emotions we might be feeling as we journey through this.
This has been massively helpful in my own healing journey, as I have no doubt it could be in yours, too! Sharing your thoughts and emotions (or sharing a tribute) allows you to process your feelings and seek support from an online community in a time where we can feel highly isolated and alone.
I just alluded to this pretty directly, but social media can provide a sense of community and give you a real, tangible support group during the grieving process. I want to mention my Intentional Life After Loss Membership + Community here, because this support group I created specifically for grievers was, quite literally, born from what I saw and heard on social media!
I was able to see comments and messages about what people were struggling with, and in addition to struggles I just know grievers have to cope with on a daily basis, this membership was born. It combines the community aspect we all so badly need through a monthly live coaching and Q&A call, but also gives you tools like video/audio content and a manageable, digestible bit of prompts and exercises each month to help guide you along in your journey.
It’s truly the best of both worlds, and again, it was founded and inspired from the magic of social media bringing us all together.
Challenges and Pitfalls
Now, while social media offers numerous benefits for those coping with grief, it’s not without its challenges. Let’s dig into that a little bit.
To put it bluntly, social media can inadvertently fuel feelings of inadequacy or competitiveness in one’s own grief process. While so much of social media can be swoon-worthy vacations and beautiful homes we wish we had, it can also lead to a lot of comparison about where we are and where we feel we should be in our grief.
Seeing how others express their grief may lead to self-judgment, which can sometimes make us feel that our grief isn’t valid or that we should be grieving differently or in a particular way. We have to let that go. Social media is a dangerous comparison game as-is, we don’t need to be throwing the complications of grief on top of that, right?! Sometimes, it might even be best to stay off of social media altogether.
Check-In With Yourself & Take a Break
While I’ve quite literally built my community largely on social media, I am all for taking much-needed breaks and respites to just… be. I encourage that of myself, and of others. To get in touch with how we’re really feeling without the noise and chaos of the outside world (aka social media) clouding what we think or feel. We NEED that! Our soul, mind, and heart crave it. My best advice, listen to your gut. Close your eyes, get in touch with that beautiful intuition of yours, and ask yourself what you really need in that moment. And this doesn’t have to be some crazy open-ended question, that can overwhelm us even more sometimes. A simple “yes” or “no” to the questions…
- Is this adding value to my life?
- Does this make me feel better than when I first opened the app?
- Does this spark joy for me?
If you answered “no” to any of those in terms of the content you’re looking at, it might be time to reevaluate.
The constant presence of digital memories and tributes on social media can be both a source of comfort and a trigger. Some may find it difficult to move forward when constantly reminded of their loss, which makes a lot of sense! Having that thrown back in your face is exhausting. This can make it challenging to move forward.
However, what I’ve come to learn about grief is that sometimes, we need that exposure. We need to see and hear others talking about our grief or even our own loved one to assure us that it’s okay. It’s okay to talk about them, think about them, and it’s okay that this happens a lot! Grief can be all-consuming, no doubt. The more inundated we get with it, in a twisted way, this can help us get more and more comfortable with hearing about it.
Digital reminders are a double-edged sword, so just like the previous point, I empower you to take it all with a grain of salt and ultimately determine what is best for you in that moment.
I just spoke about how exposure to grief and this topic being good for us, but I also need to say that over-sharing on social media may lead to emotional exhaustion. Additionally, constant attention to can detract from other necessary aspects of the grieving process. This is a little bit of a contradiction, I know! Hear me out.
I like to think of it this way: quality over quantity. I post a lot about grief on social media because that’s an area of life I’m extraordinarily passionate about. It truly is my life’s purpose to be able to help heal and guide fellow grievers.
However, even this can be a little much for me sometimes. Even other coaches! I see people taking mental health breaks all the time, and I’m SO here for it. It’s crucial, y’all. Think about the impact social media truly has on us each day, too. How often we’re on it, how we’re constantly scrolling and checking for the latest updates. Our brain needs a break! We need to honor that sacred time and give our minds a rest not only from the day-to-day things, but to really hone in and honor our grief and what it needs from us.
Trolling and Insensitivity
The anonymity of the internet can sometimes lead to insensitive or hurtful comments, there’s really no way around it. In our vulnerable state, grievers may encounter negative or unhelpful reactions from online connections.
The thing about trolls is they’re exactly that—trolls. They’re often empty, insensitive, overly opinionated people with little else to do with their time than belittle and be condescending to others. I say it all the time: you can’t please everyone! So why try to, right? We have to remember that the people who are really our people, the ones who are meant to find us and appreciate what we have to say… will. The rest is truly just noise and people creating unnecessary chaos.
Spending too much time on social media can be a distraction from the essential emotional grief work. Engaging with the outside world, self-care, and processing one’s emotions can all take a backseat when we’re scrolling through social media.
While a distraction from our grief can certainly be nice and necessary sometimes, we have to do this in moderation. We want to do this in a way that doesn’t remove us from our grief completely (sounds unpleasant, I know), because we still need to feel. We can’t dumb our pain or grief away, and we can’t distract our pain or grief away, either. I assure you, it WILL catch up with you eventually. So, once again, all in moderation.
The key to navigating grief in the age of social media is balance and mindfulness. Here are some tips for a healthier relationship with social media during the grieving process:
Limit your time on social media to avoid overexposure and distraction.
Curate Your Feed
This is pretty simple! Unfollow or mute accounts that trigger negative emotions or feelings of inadequacy.
Lean on Supportive Communities Online and Offline
Engage with online support groups or friends who offer empathy and understanding. Hello, lossesbecomegains! This is the entire reason why I created it in the first place, and it’s a pretty dang amazing community if you ask me. There are lots of other content creators doing this in their own way, too, who are incredible people. Explore around!
But, I also encourage you to get offline and do some in-person stuff here, too! There are so many resources that might be in your local area.
Don’t forget the value of face-to-face connections and professional counseling, too. I went to therapy for a few months when I first lost my dad (mom had just died six months earlier), and it was one of the best gifts I could have given myself. Whether it’s therapy, counseling, a grief group that deals with your specific kind of loss, going to a Grief Coach (hey, that’s me!) or joining a membership like my Intentional Life After Loss, there are so many levels of support out there for you.
Use Social Media as a Tool
The long and short of it is I empower and encourage you to use social media wisely. Use it as a means to express your feelings, commemorate your loved one, and keep friends and family informed. Use it to lift yourself up to feel a semblance of support, hope, and guidance. However, like anything else, all in moderation, as I’ve said!
Don’t forget to check in with yourself and make sure you’re not taking on (or taking in!) too much. We don’t want to complicate the grieving process even more now, do we? Use and consume it mindfully and in ways that support your own unique grieving needs. Only you truly know what those are!
Remember, the Losses Become Gains Podcast is here to support you with a variety of griefy topics!
Have you heard?
Speaking of support, guidance, and more help, I’ve got just the thing! My brand new Intentional Life After Loss membership (coming November 2023!) will be right up your alley. This is a membership designed to take you from simply existing and surviving in your grief after the death of a loved one to truly living and thriving.
This membership brings you valuable coping tools, the guidance of a Grief Coach, and a community that will support you as you heal, cope, elevate your soul, and design your most intentional life after suffering a loss with an uplifting support system you can count on.
If you’re in the early stages of grief right now, this might feel daunting and overwhelming. I hear you! It’s not about “getting over it” and “moving on”. It’s about trusting yourself, the process, and growing around your grief and giving yourself grace as you move forward. Acknowledging that your loss will always be with you, but doing so in a way that’s easy to digest and is all about the baby steps—in a way that isn’t daunting or too much too fast. It’s about building around your pain. It’s supporting yourself on this long, crazy journey with a sense of community alongside the perfect tools to help you!