One of my volunteer friends died a few days ago. A few mutual friends & I were talking not just about memories but also some really raw & visceral reactions from others in regards to our friend’s death being made public.
I get that people reach out to others in uncomfortable ways with a tremendous loss & it takes awhile to process a huge shock even in such a tight circle like rare disease or chronic illness. Yet the people they reach out to with inappropriate questions are grieving too.
There’s no delicate way to put this so I’ll stop being delicate & be a bit blunt.
If a person who died has not confided in you personally or given you permission to share details of their illness with others over social media, please don’t.
I was aghast at how many people didn’t remember my friend’s contributions made on a daily basis for years directly focused on bettering people’s lives but instead focused on what the friend died from instead. Some where sharing personal details that were not theirs to share in public on Facebook like it was commenting on the weather.
Please show respect to family & friends who are grieving. Don’t post outpourings of condolences or announce the death of someone before the family themselves have made others aware & had a chance to call people themselves.
This is a much too common occurrence. It can be quite jarring & shocking to those who may not have been notified yet & is also wholly unfair to family members who are trying to reach out to others to let them know as well as trying to hold themselves together in such a painful time.
Above all, please don’t private message people insisting they absolutely provide details of the person’s death, especially right after it happens.
Moreover, if someone replies that they aren’t comfortable sharing those details with you, please respect that & don’t press them for more information.
The above instances is being a death troll or a vulture which is about as nice as it sounds.
It takes away dignity from the friend who died & it shows disrespect to family & friends who are grieving.
Why I am talking about this? Because I’ve seen it happen to a few of my friends even just within the past 2 days.
Each time it happened it made the grief more intense for the people that experienced this.
It also seems to keep occurring more & more.
Maybe I’m more sensitive to this issue because I’ve had some very real & private conversations regarding mortality a few times in my life with people one-on-one.
I also don’t always get it right when it comes to condolences or knowing what to say, as I’m human too. I do though, make a concerted effort to not exacerbate the situation with insensitive or inappropriate questions or comments or sharing private details that aren’t mine to share.
I’m also writing this out of respect for a mutual friend who recently was very deeply hurt by such actions when they happened a few days ago. I talked to this friend at length recently about this.
Yet I’ve a hard time putting this to words but had to find a way to express these thoughts of how upsetting it is to acknowledge her pain without coming off as preachy or judgemental.
I had to take a few days to write this out coherently because it was upsetting to see someone hurting even more than what they needed to be over the careless actions of others who felt they were more important than those who suffered the loss themselves.
To better articulate this as far as practical advisement of how to handle a delicate situation, I’ve seen this circulate recently again & it’s a good reminder:
It’s called “The Ring Theory“.
I share it in closing in the hopes that it will give people pause in tough situations in how not to pile on more pain on top of those in the thick of grief or trauma itself whether it be in real life or even on social media.