When an online community member dies
What should a community manager do when a member dies? In short, acknowledge the loss and celebrate the life.
Most people have little experience with death, loss and grief. The community manager can help by giving people a place to talk about their feelings and pay tribute. You should lead by example. Don’t be prescriptive, but offer guidance to people who may be facing the reality of death for the first time.
- Start an “In memory of” thread or blog. Write about the member’s contribution to the community. Include a photo if available and a personalized message about how he or she will be missed, for example, “we’ll all miss Jim’s witty humour and love for cooking metaphors.”
- Announce the death in at least one communication – a blog post, newsletter, a forum thread. Be careful about its placement in a newsletter in relationship to the other headlines. Be respectful, but don’t completely change the normal, expected tone of the newsletter.
Here are some optional ideas:
- Contact a family member or friend privately (if possible) and ask if community members can send donations to a specific charity. Post this information to the community.
- Post funeral or memorial details if appropriate.
- Offer links to grief counselling services and online resources, such as Canadian Virtual Hospice.
What inspired community tributes have you seen?