Survey: Do we “unfriend” our Facebook friends after they die?

13th May 2016

40% of British adults wouldn’t unfriend someone they know on Facebook even after that person has died, according to new research for Dying Matters. The survey of over 2,000 adults by ComRes found that only 8% of people agreed that when someone they know on Facebook dies, they unfriend their account soon after, compared with 40% who disagreed.

The survey also found that only 26% of people agreed that Facebook is a good way of sharing news of a death beyond the immediate circle of family and friends, with 50% disagreeing. Only 21% of people agreed that Facebook is the best method of sharing news of a terminal diagnosis beyond close friends and family, with 58% disagreeing.

In both cases, younger people are more likely to be comfortable sharing such news on Facebook than older. 25% of 18-24-year-olds agreed that they would share that they knew they were dying on Facebook, rising to 31% for 25-34-year-olds but falling to 11% for the over 65s.

Men are slightly more likely to unfriend someone on Facebook soon after that person’s death, with 10% agreeing against only 7% of women.

James Norris of the Digital Legacy Association said “this shows how important Facebook is as a tool to remember and mourn the deceased. That so few people would unfriend someone on Facebook after their death gives us a small indication as to the importance Facebook is providing into posterity.
This research does however also highlight that there are limits to what we are willing to share. For example, only 11% of those over the age of 65 would inform their Facebook friends of their condition if the prognosis was terminal”.
James predicts our willingness to share personal information such as diagnosed conditions and areas relating to end of life will increase in the coming years.

The annual Digital Legacy Conference takes place this Saturday at St Joseph’s Hospice this Saturday (May 14th). Places are free but must be reserved in advance. More information and booking details here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

During this challenging time, we are doing our utmost to continue caring for the patients and loved ones who need us most.

The way we work has been adapted, with many of our services delivered remotely – such as over the phone, or by video call. And we are working closely with other health care professionals in Worcestershire to share knowledge and expertise at this time.

Latest changes at St Richard’s Hospice

  • In-patient Unit: It is with great sadness that due to stringent infection control measures, we are required to restrict visiting and cannot offer the comprehensive level of service in the way we usually do. However, we will still do our utmost to make sure that each patient and loved one is given the compassion and dignity they deserve. To help families stay in touch we are encouraging virtual visiting using technology such as video calls and apps. This will be discussed and explained to patients and families on admission and we can help provide access to equipment in the hospice. In addition, the IPU nursing team will liaise with each patient and family to arrange short daily visits from the patient's closest loved one and compassionate visiting, as appropriate. Read the full details here.
  • Community Nursing: Community services continue to operate, with a mixture of hands-on care and remote support.
  • Living Well and Family Support Services: Switched to virtual model, with care given remotely over the phone or via video call.
  • Shops: All 19 of our shops and warehouse are temporarily closed. Please do not leave donations outside our shops, as we are unable to collect them at this time.
  • Fundraising: All hospice organised events until the end of August have been postponed. If you wish to support us, please donate to our Resilience Fund.

Please do not visit St Richard’s Hospice if you have a high temperature or new, continuous cough. If you have these symptoms, please stay at home and self-isolate for seven days. See NHS advice on coronavirus.

Thank you for your support and understanding at this difficult time.