Loving tribute or disrespectful? The trend of posting relatives’ final moments online

Some people may choose t share their loved one's final moments online. Source: Getty. (Stock image).

While many families choose to spend their final moments with their dying loved one in private, a social media trend in recent years has seen some share their grief online by posting photos of their relative in their final days – no doubt intending the post to be a loving tribute, while also finding comfort from their supportive friends.

But one woman has now slammed the trend as “disrespectful”, sparking a debate among grandparents over where to draw the line when it comes to sharing your private life online. Taking to grandparenting forum Gransnet, the user said she came across a photo of a woman’s grandmother in her “last hours” recently, when browsing through social media, and she felt compelled to comment on it.

“I was horrified yesterday to find a photo of a poor old soul curled up on a bed apparently asleep. The text told me that it was the poster’s gran who was in her last hours,” she explained.

While the woman said there were a lot of responses offering support to the person who’d posted it, she felt shocked by what she’d seen. “I replied suggesting that it was not very respectful to post this very private moment on a social media site,” the woman added.

“The poster replied with a lot of guff saying it was because she loved her etc etc. Privacy, dignity, respect? Was I overreacting?”

It sparked a debate on the forum, with many people agreeing with her that it was a step too far. One person wrote: “Nothing’s sacred these days unfortunately… It’s a pity that some folk want to share every minute of their lives.”

Another pointed out that the dying gran didn’t have a say in the photo, which made it worse, while one added: “It does seem odd to me that the modern thing seems to share moments of extreme (for me) privacy. People seem to feel the need to wear their hearts on their sleeve and show all outward signs of emotion. My absolute instinct is quite the opposite.”

However one person wrote: “I guess everyone has their own ideas of what respect/love is and obviously for you it is not the same as it is for the person who posted. While I don’t think I would post something like that I don’t see anything wrong with doing so if someone wants to. Each to their own.”

While many people no doubt believe the trend is more common among younger people, one writer previously insisted in a first-person piece for The Guardian that many Millennials are actually nervous to over-share online. She was explaining her internal struggle herself when deciding whether she should post a photo of her late friend on the anniversary of his death.

“Grieving in the internet age is weird,” she wrote. “Despite what many make out, millennials are actually reticent to get real on social media. Instead of being emotionally candid we’re perpetually sarcastic, self-deprecating and deliberately unpolished.

“Being ‘too online’ or oversharing too readily is uncool. There’s a saying that you get one sincere online post a year; use it well. So then what do you do when someone has died?”

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