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8 Tips for Sharing News of Death

Figuring out what to say when someone dies is an incredibly difficult task, especially when someone dies unexpectedly or you've never shared such difficult news before. Here are some tips on how to break the news and what to say when someone dies.

Tip 1: Notify those close to the deceased first

Notifying individuals who are close to the person who passed is important to do first after someone passes away. If possible, notifying these individuals either in-person or over the phone is the preferred method of contact given the sensitivity of the news. You want to avoid someone close to the deceased finding out about a death online or through social media, if at all possible.

Tip 2: Pause before posting

You will likely be at an elevated level of emotional distress when you first learn of someone's death and when you're sharing this news with others. In the hours and days that follow, try to take a step back before posting anything publicly about the death, especially if it was unexpected. It can help to wait at least 24 hours before publicly posting about the death of a loved one. This time can help you pause before posting anything you may regret, can help you gather information about services, and consult with your family on the wording of the post, if necessary. It also gives you time to consider some aspects of the funeral planning and prepare some answers to some questions you're likely to get. Consider the following questions and your answers to these questions. (You can even include answers to these questions in the post itself, if you feel inclined to do so.)

  • Will there be public or private services? (Or no services at all?)
  • What type of services will take place? A memorial event? A funeral? A celebration of life?
  • When will the services take place?
  • Do you want people to RSVP or is it an open invitation?
  • Will the family accept flowers? (If so, where should flowers be sent?)
  • Do you need assistance with paying for funeral expenses?
  • Do you want donations to go towards a cause the individual cared about?

Once you've considered these questions, identify what you'd like to include in your post and write up a brief draft. It can help to share this draft with a loved one so that they can read over it and edit anything you may have missed. Once you feel ready, share the post on whichever platform you're using.

Tip 3: Keep it simple

When you're sharing news of death, it's important to stick to the facts and be very clear that the individual has passed. This can help avoid confusion and can preemptively address any questions folks may have. When sharing a Facebook death announcement, for example, you can consider some of the following (or opt to simply share the memorial website instead of writing this all out):

  • Announce that the individual has passed away.
  • Let people know if there are services, when they're planned for, and whether or not you're still gathering information.
  • Let people know when and how they can RSVP to attend services, if there are services already planned.

If the death was unexpected and you feel comfortable sharing this information, let people know how the individual passed away.

Here's a short death announcement example that one might share on Facebook or another social media platform:

Friends and family, It's with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of [Name]. [Name] passed away on [date of death] at the age of [age] after [cause of death]. We are still working on getting service information together, but request that anyone interested in attending services subscribe to the memorial website we've set up for [Name], here: [link to memorial site]

Tip 4: Be sensitive

A death can affect so many individuals, often more than the immediate family expects. Think of all the friends, coworkers, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, and other community members you know and are in touch with. Think of all the people you know that your family has no knowledge of. You're likely to be contacted by people you've never even heard of who have many questions. What happened? When did it happen? Are there services? Maybe you know of these people and heavily dislike them. Maybe you don't know them at all. The important part is to figure out what you're comfortable with sharing and what your response will be when faced with an unexpected visitor asking questions about the passing. Try to keep in mind that everyone grieves in their own way and to be kind, when possible.

Tip 5: Set up a memorial website

A memorial website is one of the best things you can set up after someone passes away. It's an easy way to share event information, collect RSVPs, collect (and share) photos and memories, connect a livestream to the memorial service (if there is one), and help people connect during such a difficult time. If you're struggling to cover funeral expenses or want to raise funds towards a specific cause, you can easily do that on the memorial website. If you set up a memorial website on Ever Loved, you have access to all of this for free. Simply set up the memorial website and share the link with friends, family, and your community so that they can stay up to date.

Tip 6: Honor the deceased

Regardless of your relationship with the deceased, it's a good rule of thumb to remember that making a death announcement is, generally, a public action and not the best time to air personal drama or issues. Try to keep a death announcement factual and avoid using a death as a platform for being negative or intentionally harmful towards the deceased or the family of the deceased.

Tip 7: Be mindful of privacy

If you're sharing a Facebook death announcement, remember that many people can see the death announcement (depending on your privacy settings). Similarly, depending on the memorial site platform you're using, most memorial websites are publicly available and easily searchable online. If you're uncomfortable with this and want a private memorial website, you'll need to find one that lets you enable these privacy settings. (If you're using an Ever Loved memorial website, you can enable this in the Premium settings.) If you post on any type of social media, keep in mind that this is likely public information and could be copied and shared without your knowledge at any time. Some families are concerned with identity theft and fraud after a death in the family, so being aware of any sensitive information (such as addresses, phone numbers, important documentation) is a good idea. Posting about a death is helpful, you’ll just want to be mindful of what you’re including in the post.

Tip 8: Get the word out

If you don't have contact information for the friends or community members of the deceased, are struggling with expenses, or are trying to notify as many people as possible -- try your best to get the word out. This can mean sending a heartfelt death announcement by text, through email, by mail, by posting on each of your social media platforms and by encouraging others to do the same. If your loved one was a part of any religious communities, community organizations, or labor unions, asking them for assistance in this can help you get the post out in front of people you wouldn't normally have contact with. The more people that see the post, the more likely you make sure those who want to attend services and pay their respects are given the opportunity to do so.

Ready to get started? Setting up a memorial website on Ever Loved is easy, free, and can be done in under 10 minutes. You'll be able to share event information, collect RSVPs, collect donations, share photos, and much more.

Start a website

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Last updated June 23, 2022
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