Social media increasingly used to announce death of a loved one

Social media could soon be sounding the death knell for the sympathy card, according to one in ten South-Eastern adults.

Social media increasingly used to announce a death
Social media increasingly used to announce a death

The findings form part of a new report ‘Death in the Digital Age – A life well streamed’ released by the Co-op.

The report, which is the second in a series of studies looking at death in the digital era, highlights that the nation is increasingly turning to social media to break the news that a loved one has passed.

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Almost a fifth (18%) of the South-East’s adults have personally posted online to update others about the death of a loved one, whilst over a quarter (27%) say they wouldn’t have known someone had died if it hadn’t been shared on social.

Highlighting that this is an increasing trend for the future, a fifth of South-Eastern people say they would want a loved one to post online when we pass away.

This is a contrast to the UK’s 18-24 year-olds, as a quarter (23%) have already updated online friends about a death.

When looking at who people will post online about, findings show that those from the South-East are most likely to post about a family member (23%).

However sharing news about the loss of a friend (17%) or partner (16%) also led people online.

Furthermore, celebrity deaths triggered a post from over a tenth (14%) of South-East adults.

When delving into the reasons why people from the South-East posted online to notify others about the death of a loved one:

· Half (48%) took the online approach as it was the quickest way to let people know

· Almost two fifths (38%) did so to express how they felt about the person

· Over a quarter (26%) worried they’d see people and have to let them know in person

· Over a fifth (22%) said an online update was the only way they could let some people know

· A fifth (21%) said that they do everything online so it made sense to post this too

· A fifth (19%) wanted to see nice comments in response to their post

· Almost a fifth (18%) did so to stop online friends from contacting the deceased online

· Over a tenth (13%) said it looked nice as they could add images of their loved one to the post

Regarding the online sites South-Eastern adults have used to post online about the death of a loved one, Facebook is most popular with four fifths (79%) of those from the South East region saying this was where they posted.

A further quarter (28%) took to Twitter and a fifth (20%) would post on Instagram.

Perhaps reflecting the nation’s love of social media, the following channels were also used:

· 13% of South East adults would write a specific blog post

· 11% would create a dedicated online memorial site

· 10% would provide an update on LinkedIn

· 7% would Snapchat

David Collingwood, Head of Operations for Co-op Funeralcare commented: “With people increasingly using social media to update on everyday life, it’s no surprise that online sites are more frequently being used as forums to update on the news of someone passing away.

“Our study reveals that 27% of adults from the South East who want their loved ones to post online when they pass away have already let someone know that this is their wish or communicated it in their funeral plan. I think that’s really important - we all deal with grief in different ways and my advice would be to consider if an online post is what your late loved one would have wanted and whether there is a risk of upsetting friends and family members by doing so.”

Jennie Bond, Journalist, Broadcaster and Royal Correspondent commented: “During my career as a journalist, broadcaster and Royal Correspondent, it was my responsibility to report on births, deaths, marriages and everything in between.

“In my role, striking the right balance of sensitivity could be challenging. This is why I find it fascinating that due to the increasing use of social media, our views on posting about people passing away are beginning to change. There aren’t the same sensitivities surrounding breaking bad news on our social pages it seems. This is reflected in Co-op’s study by the fact that 1 in 10 South Eastern people see posting online about someone’s death as ‘’normal’.”