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Social Media and Terminal Illness: Should You Post?

Social media and terminal illness

Terminal illness can make even the most connected individuals feel isolated from their friends and family. Having limited mobility and reduced social interaction can make it challenging to stay positive during a battle with illness.

Tech companies and developers have tried to remedy isolation over the past few decades by connecting people through social media. Going back to the late 90s, we’ve been using the internet to communicate with others across the globe.

While it’s a great way to catch up with friends or talk about the latest happenings in our lives, is it a smart way to communicate about a terminal illness? Check out our list of pros and cons to posting about a terminal illness below.

Pros of Posting About a Terminal Illness

The internet and social media have changed how we think and communicate about terminal illness and death. It’s a way to connect with others that are far away or hard to reach. Some people use social media to process the emotions of their terminal illness. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, here are a few reasons why talking through it online may be beneficial.

  1. Social media posting makes it easy for friends and family to show their support. Whenever people post online, they can receive support from friends, family and even strangers. This support network can help give a person dealing with a terminal illness through encouragement and uplifting words.
  2. Social media gives you an external way to process your illness. Whenever you are going through a terminal illness, talking openly about your experience can help you process emotions with others. There are cases of oversharing (and we will get to those later), but, in most instances, friends and family are understanding and know that your posting is an outlet for these emotions.
  3. It’s a convenient way to update and inform friends and family about your condition. If you feel well enough to talk about your day-to-day status, social media is an easy way to tell others how you are doing on one platform, which helps you avoid repetitive conversation.
  4. You can meet other people who are dealing with the same illness as you. Social media platforms make it easier than ever to join a group of people who have similarities with you. While excellent hospice care providers offer emotional and spiritual support, it is nice to talk with others going through the same trials as you.

Cons of Posting About Terminal Illness 

Posting to social media can benefit those battling a terminal illness, but there can be downsides to documenting your experience for the online world to see.

  1. Social media posting can make it easy to overshare. Being open and honest about the way you feel can be an incredibly uplifting feeling, but you have to be careful not to share too much information. Medical ID theft is a growing problem in the United States, and, unfortunately, people can take advantage of those who post compromising info.
  2. Friends and family on social media can accidentally misconstrue your message. Unlike talking with someone face-to-face or over the phone, your message can lose context when communicated through text. Make sure updates on your terminal illness are clear and avoid cryptic language.
  3. You can open yourself up to negative comments on social media.  Most of your friends and family you share with will be supportive and uplifting. However, there may be those who criticize what you’ve shared. Make sure you are ready to deal with any critical or negative comments.

Advice for Family Members

If your loved one is dealing with a terminal illness, make sure to talk with them about how they want to communicate with others. If they choose to use social media, they may ask you to help draft posts or take pictures. Be supportive of their decision on how to talk with others about their illness and respect their wishes. 

Ensure that all close family members (parents, siblings, spouses and children) have been updated before posting something on social media.

Remember, sharing how your loved one is doing on social media can be a great way to reach out to others for emotional support. Make sure your loved one has great physical support as well, and contact Seasons Hospice today to see how we can help your loved find comfort and satisfaction in their final days.

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Seasons Hospice is an independent community health care provider, not a large for-profit organization. We would not be able to offer our hospice services if we did not have the support of passionate community members who understand the importance of cost-free hospice care. To simplify the hospice process for patients and families, we rely on the generosity of our donors.