News about the death of a friend or loved one is something that each of us reacts to differently. We may spend days, weeks, or even months reliving the moments we had with them. Often, we are left full of questions. It seems unreal to think that we’ll never be able to add to those memories. We seek out ways of coping with our grief and honoring the memory of the deceased.
The internet, in particular, is responsible for the creation of many new ways of honoring the dead, including online services and memorials, which have become a vital part of the grieving process for many. And with the advent of social media, including sites like Facebook, we are finding new ways to celebrate the lives of those we have lost, as well as a few new challenges. Facebook can be a major aid in notifying others of the death, in coordinating mourning rituals, and in providing an outlet for grief, but the question of what to do with our loved one’s account lingers.
On its blog, a Facebook representative posted the following statement, which informs their policy in handling user deaths: “When someone leaves us, they don’t leave our memories or our social network.” With this in mind, they created “memorial accounts,” which are available to any of their users who have passed on. By utilizing this service, your friend or loved one will be able to remain a part of the lives they touched through a profile of their own creation.
As soon as you are able to, you’ll want to notify Facebook that the deceased has passed away. They’ll require some information about the departed, including their profile’s email address, their date of birth, networks they were involved in while alive, your relationship to them, and a link to an obituary or related news article (for verification purposes).
Once you have done this, the Facebook team will “memorialize” your loved one’s profile page, rendering it inaccessible to any attempts to log in, make changes, or send messages using the account. Sensitive information, such as contact addresses and status updates, will be removed from the profile page, and it will also become unsearchable by anybody who is not already a “friend.” The profile’s “wall” will still be available to anybody connected to it, and friends and loved ones may post messages at any time.
If you are not comfortable taking this action yourself, you should notify a relative about it, so that they can decide whether they wish to do so at their own discretion.