New York State Funeral Directors Association

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 71% of all internet users are on Facebook.

As the most popular social media site, Facebook allows us to share our random thoughts, photos of the kids and grandkids (and the beach vacation!), and connect with classmates and long-distance relatives.

Over the last few years, Facebook has grown into a natural place that people go to to share an obituary of a friend or relative, post photos of someone who has died, and share their favorite memories of that person.

Facebook has followed these trends and updated their policies to be more sensitive and respectful to grieving family and friends.

When someone dies, a family member or close friend can notify Facebook to report the death and ask that the account be memorialized.

The name of the individual, date of death and a link to the obituary or a copy of the death certificate is required to make such a request.

A memorialized account provides friends and family a place to share photos and memories after a person has passed away. Facebook will first add the word "remembering" next to the name of the deceased.

The benefits of a memorialized account include:

  • It provides a place for friends to share memories on the memorialized Timeline
  • The content the person shared - like photos and thoughts – stays on Facebook and remains visible to the audience it was shared with
  • Privacy is preserved; no one can log into a memorialized account, but people can see what was previously there
  • Alternatively, a Facebook user may choose to have their account permanently deleted when they pass away
  • Prior to death, the user can indicate such in their settings, and, once a family member or close friends “report” the death to Facebook, the account would be permanently deleted

Group Pages

If an individual's page is deleted, friends and family members may choose to create a Facebook "group" instead to offer the opportunity to share memories of their loved one.

Telling stories about someone who has died is a big piece of grieving, and can be done in a private or closed Facebook group.

This is especially helpful for those who were unable to attend the funeral services, and for those who are feeling particularly emotional in the days and weeks leading up to the first anniversary of the death.

Facebook has also fine-tuned their settings to remove deceased users from their "People You May Know" posts. The stories of the families and friends who have been negatively impacted by a "Wish Sammy a happy birthday" reminder months after "Sammy" died will never happen again.

Learn more about Facebook's Memorialized account tools

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the May, 2015 edition of DIRECTIONS, a members-only publication of the New York State Funeral Directors Association. Marianne Reid Schrom is Director of External and Member Relations at the NYSFDA and also serves as Director of the NYSFDA Family Assistance Commission.