Dealing with a Digital Footprint After the Loss of a Loved One

January 18, 2018 6:03 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

When a loved one passes away, handling their absence can be a huge challenge. In today’s world, though, many of us leave behind online presences after we’re gone, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere. These online presences can do both harm and good during the grieving process, and like the loved one’s personal belongings, must be taken care of at some point after they pass.

It can be very difficult to decide when and what to do with your loved one’s digital presence. Whether you choose to have the accounts deleted, turned into memorial pages or have nothing done to them at all, understand that dealing with the digital footprint is another part of the modern world’s grieving process and should be done with care.

When is the right time to handle a digital footprint?

When you are working through the details of funeral services in Westchester, IL, dealing with your loved one’s digital footprint may not be top of mind. After these things are taken care of, though, it’s best to take time to handle the deceased’s online accounts.

An unexpected friend suggestion, birthday reminder or other alerts can trigger people in the middle of their grieving process, so we encourage loved ones to pay attention to important dates and handle the digital footprint before this time.

Ultimately, the choice to access, delete or memorialize a loved one’s digital footprint is one that should be made when you are ready. If it will cause you further distress while you grieve, take the time you need to mentally prepare to revisit your loved ones online.

How to gain access to a loved one’s account

When dealing with a digital footprint, some loved ones make the choice to delete all social media and online accounts entirely. Others choose to leave some accounts active and others not, or memorialize the person’s accounts when the option is available. Leaving some information, posts, photos and videos can serve as a digital shoebox whereby others can reflect on, “communicate” with and appreciate the deceased.

Each online platform handles accessing your loved one’s profiles differently, but they typically require proof you are an immediate family member and proof of passing:

  • Facebook: Facebook requires proof you are an immediate family member to process special requests about an account, including removing a loved one’s profile. Once proof is processed, you may remove the profile entirely, or can memorialize the profile, which inserts “Remembering” before the profile name and allows users to share posts and photos on their wall. You can also assign a legacy contact who can write a post on the deceased’s behalf and change their profile photo.
  • Twitter: Twitter requires your loved one’s death certificate, your photo ID and a signed statement providing contact information and the request to deactivate the account. Twitter also allows you to request removal of certain images of the deceased individual.
  • Instagram: Instagram allows you to submit a request to deactivate your loved one’s account by providing contact information and a copy of the death certificate or obituary.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn profiles can be removed by family members by providing a request including the member’s name, the date they passed away, the company at which they most recently worked and your relationship to them.
  • Email: Most major email services such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail allow immediate family members to request a deactivation of the loved one’s email, and can usually delete the email contents for privacy.

If your loved one has recently passed away and you require help setting up funeral services in Westchester, IL, contact Marik-Baken Funeral Services Ltd. We offer traditional funeral services, memorials services, cremation and other arrangements to meet your specific needs.

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