How to Memorialize
Your Loved One Online

by Camille Johnson

Seven out of 10 Americans now use social media to connect with friends, family, and coworkers, making it likely your departed loved one left behind an online footprint. You can use their account to honor their memory and share the sad news of their passing by following these steps.

1. Look for Any Instructions Your Loved One Left

Many people think ahead and write out instructions for their families to follow in the event of their death. Defer to these guidelines as you move forward.

2. Assess Their Social Media Presence and Contact Customer Support

Determine which social media sites your loved one used and how active their accounts were. Each social media site has established processes for handling accounts of deceased users. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn allow you to memorialize or remove accounts. Twitter will only remove accounts. Unless you have their passwords, you'll need to contact the social media sites' customer support to gain access and create your memorial.

3. Get in Touch With Close Friends and Family First

Before you post anything online, notify the people closest to your loved one in person or by phone. Compile a list and delegate some of the phone calls and visits to people you trust.

4. Decide the Purpose of the Memorial Post

Your online memorial may be intended to:

  • Announce the death of your loved one

  • Share details about the arrangements

  • Post the official obituary

  • Reflect on their life

  • Encourage others to share their memories

Deciding on the purpose of your post will make it easier to write.

5. Create and Share Your Post

 As you craft your memorial post, you may want to include:

  • Details about arrangements

  • Link to the obituary

  • A meaningful poem or quote

  • A brief biography

  • A funny or sentimental story that captures who your loved one was

  • Recent and childhood photographs

  • Photos of important milestones, like their wedding or graduation

  • A video montage of memories

  • Videos of your loved one doing an activity they enjoyed

Remember, you're not obligated to disclose any information in your post. You don't need to share the cause of death or discuss other private matters. If commenters ask, you can say something like, "We'd prefer to keep that private."

6. Tend to Your Loved One's Assets

After you have memorialized your loved one online, you'll need to turn your attention to settling their affairs. The property that your loved one owned is called their estate, and the process of settling it is known as probate. If you're named the executor of their estate, you'll need to:

  • Inventory their property

  • Pay any debts and taxes

  • Sell any assets

  • Distribute the proceeds

Probate laws vary from state to state, and they can make selling your loved one's home complex. Choosing a real estate agent experienced in probate sales can simplify the process.

7. Start a Nonprofit in Their Honor

Is there a cause your loved one cared about or championed? You could honor their life by creating a nonprofit. ZenBusiness advises that registering as a nonprofit corporation will bring you tax benefits and make it easier to apply for grants and public funding. 

Memorializing Your Loved One Is an Important Part of the Grief Process

Saying goodbye is difficult, but experts in mental health report that reminiscing about your loved one can help with the grieving process. Following the steps outlined above will allow you to create a touching tribute for them and enable their extended network to share their condolences and pay their respects.