The way we handle and process death has completely changed over the last few years, so it’s not all that surprising that we’re going digital with our grief. The topic of using social media as an outlet continues to be a controversial one. Is it really a beneficial tool for grief or simply a way of seeking attention?

Things change as time passes and technology improves – even the way we deal with death. Obituaries are now largely available on the internet and funeral planning can all be done online thanks to companies such as Beyond. It’s easy to see how society is starting to turn to the internet as an outlet for grief, but it’s still a heavily debated topic. The internet has many uses that we rely heavily on and it seems grief has become another one.

The main benefit of using social media during the grieving process is that it encourages us to discuss it openly and honestly without fear. Opening up and expressing your feelings is not only empowering, it can help those grieving understand they aren’t alone. In fact, Psychology Today has stated that expressing pain is a good way of making it stop. While grief will never go away in a hurry, posting on social media can be a beneficial outlet for those who struggle to express themselves in person.

Rather than holding back our deep feelings of loss, they can be communicated without the need of face-to-face contact – something many people want to avoid when mourning a loved one. Social media posts could be viewed as a more personal obituary; it allows family and friends to share stories in an instant. Not only does this help people bond over their loss, it can help us heal as we appreciate the memories we were lucky enough to share with our loved one.

The problem is when people begin posting about those who they weren’t very close to without discussing it with the family first. Social media users have been accused of jumping of the ‘faux grief’ bandwagon by misrepresenting the person, misleading others as to how close they were to the deceased or even making the sorrowful time all about them. These posts can often trivialise death as everyone has the ability to share their comments and stories, no matter how true they really are.

The other major issue is that close friends and family may not be aware that their loved one has passed away yet. Would it be fair for someone to find out about a death in the family via social media? Author Taya Dunn Johnson implored people to have more consideration when it comes to posting on social media after going through this, stating that sharing grief too soon can simply add unnecessary stress to the situation. If you do want to make a tribute post, make sure it’s done after those closest to the person who has died have had time to speak out.

Expressing our thoughts on death could help society get over the general fear that seems to surround the topic. However, those who decide to share their feelings this way should always approach with caution so they don’t do more harm than good. Sharing your respects is sure to be appreciated and while social media gives you the platform to do so, it’s up to you to judge if it’s truly appropriate in the situation.