It is unnerving to see Facebook recommend a deceased friend or acquaintance under “Suggestions for People you May Know.” Even creepier to get notified by Facebook to wish a friend happy birthday when your friend has died.

Facebook has processes in place to help you before or after a death so this does not happen. Just access Facebook’s “Help Center” and search for “Death” for all the appropriate links. Here’s how to handle a variety of situations:

To remove a deceased family member from Facebook.

  • Facebook requires you complete an online form and you will need to provide them  with some type of documentation to authenticate the death, such as a death certificate, obituary, or other documentation.

To memorialize a deceased friend or family member’s Facebook account when you do not want the account deleted.

  • You’ll need to request that Facebook memorialize the account. They will require the name of the deceased person, the date they died, and they will request a link to the obituary or death notice.

To choose what you would like to happen to your Facebook account upon your death.

  • You can decide now how you want your Facebook account handled after your death. Go to Facebook’s “Help Center” and select “Manage my account” and select “Memorialized Accounts.”
  • You can choose whether you would like your account deleted upon your death or memorialized.
  • If you choose to have it memorialized the word “Remembering” will appear next to your name.
  • Memorializing your account will prevent your name from appearing in “Suggestions for People You May Know” or birthday reminders.
  • If you would like to have your account deleted following your death, Facebook provides instructions on how to do so under the above settings.

To ensure your memorialized account will be properly managed.

  • Facebook has a feature that allows you to choose someone you trust to manage your Facebook page upon your death.
  • You can designate in advance (accessed though Memorialized accounts) a “legacy” contact and they will have the ability to add photos and other materials to your memorialized account.
  • If you choose a Legacy contact, Facebook will send your designee a message confirming that you have chosen them. This gives you the opportunity to discuss with your legacy contact how you want your account managed upon your death.

Many bereaved friends and family members find solace in accessing and interacting with other grievers on a Facebook page. It has become a new outlet in the mourning process.

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Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.

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Comment by byron leclair on March 24, 2015 at 9:14am

When my son passed away, his facebook account was deleted without notice, and without appeal.  I lost access to all my son's photos he had posted onto his facebook page.  There is no way to email or contact facebook to get his page back online.  Facebook is just awful.

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