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Why Facebook Isn’t So Friendly for Widows and Widowers

Navigating social media as a widow is never easy. If you’ve lost your spouse, here are a few issues you could run into on Facebook.
Why Facebook Isn't So Friendly for Widows and Widowers
Sad senior woman mourning the loss of her husband, she is holding a picture

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Many widows and widowers think the hardest part of navigating Facebook is making an announcement about the death of their spouse. Unfortunately, for some people that isn’t the case. There are several aspects of the Facebook social media platform that aren’t so friendly for widows and widowers.

If you’ve lost your spouse here are a few issues you could run into when you’re ready to get active on Facebook again. 

RELATED READING: How to Manage a Deceased Loved One’s Instagram Account

Difficulty Managing Your Spouse’s Identity on Facebook

Are you the legacy contact for your late spouse? A legacy contact is someone that is appointed to oversee a person’s Facebook account after they die. They can accept new friend requests, change the profile image, update the cover photo and more. It’s perfect for a surviving spouse that wants to get data off of the Facebook account after the death and manage their late spouse’s online identity.  

The problem is many people don’t establish a legacy contact, and surviving spouses aren’t automatically given that designation. The issue makes it very difficult for a surviving spouse to manage their late husband or wife’s information and protect their identity after death.

Worse still is if another person was named the legacy contact prior to the marriage, such as an ex-wife or ex-husband. If that’s the case, someone else will be able to manage your deceased spouse’s Facebook account without your input.

Status Updates That Are Beyond It’s Complicated

Eventually, many widowers are ready to update their status as they begin to settle into their new normal. It’s already an emotional process for many people, but the short list of status options doesn’t help matters. Right now the options are:

  • Single
  • In a relationship
  • Engaged
  • Married
  • In a civil partnership
  • In a domestic partnership
  • In an open relationship
  • It’s complicated
  • Separated
  • Divorced
  • Widowed

You’ll notice there’s no way to combine the options so that your status is “widowed – single”, “widowed – in a civil partnership” or something similar. On Facebook you can’t be a widow and single even though that could be the reality of your situation. You have to choose one or the other, and it can be a very difficult decision to make. 

Some widows have found a work around by keeping their relationship status as married and opting to hide the information. But that could mean having a conversation with your new significant other to explain the hidden status if you start dating someone new.

Memorial Pages That Don’t Reflect Marital Status

If you weren’t named the legacy contact for your spouse’s Facebook account you can still request that the page be a memorialized. When a Facebook page is memorialized friends and family can use it as a space for sharing memories and posting remembrances. Many surviving spouses decide to memorialize a Facebook account without realizing that changes made to their own status will affect the memorialized page.

The biggest issue is changing relationship status. Many people choose to keep their status as married or they change it to “widowed”. In those cases the memorial page will reflect that you were married to your spouse. However, if you change the relationship status at all beyond that it will be reflected on your late spouse’s memorialized page. Basically, the memorialized page won’t show that you were ever married if the relationship status changes. 

This emotionally painful glitch is due to the fact Facebook only shows a user’s current relationship status. It doesn’t show past relationships or previous marriages – as it does with previous employers. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this when they update their status, and they find out the hard way. 

The team at Green Cremation Texas can’t help you gain access to your late spouse’s Facebook account, but we can help you manage the funeral arrangements. We make it easy with all-inclusive direct cremation services that are affordable and eco-friendly. Simply decide what type of cremation you’d like performed, and we’ll handle the rest.

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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