Beyond the Sad Face Emoji 😢 – 6 Tips for Comforting Those Sharing Their Pain on Social Media


You can imagine it, because I’m pretty sure it’s happened to you. You’re casually scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, looking through posts of babies, pets, weddings, the weather, sporting events, political posts, birthdays, anniversaries, recipes, funny memes and the latest must have gadget. You like this one, love that one, laugh at a few and ignore others. You’re scrolling away and suddenly it’s there. A post that breaks the whole feeling of this casual pass the time mode. A post that takes your breath away. Your fingers freeze.  

A coworker lost a spouse. A college classmate suffered a heart attack or stroke. A friend received a diagnosis of a difficult medical situation. Or posts about divorce, a deployment, the loss of jobs, family crisis, sudden tragedy or natural disasters. It could even be the anniversary of a tragic event remembered. The list goes on and on. 

Now what?

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Facebook in their clever wisdom created the sad face emoji.  A quick easy solution to show people you’re sad for them with the simple click of a mouse. But is that enough? The reality with this little sad face is that once you leave it on a post, you most likely will question what you should do next.  

Starting at the comment section of the post.  You start typing something only to erase it and question saying anything at all.  But you know saying something is important. Additionally, “Everyone else” is saying something. You don’t want to say the same thing. Help. The thoughts go around and around in our heads.

You are in what is called the “Awkward Zone™️”, or in this case, the “Social Media Awkward Zone”. A place we all find ourselves at some point or another. Yet it is important to push through “the awkward” because your friends who were courageous and shared their pain need you to push through it.  

These 6 tips are little guides as to how to approach the situation:

1. Stop.Take a breath and re-read the post as if this happened to you or your family.  If this post stopped you cold, you can only imagine how many lives have been turned on their heads by this event. People are in real pain and they need you. By reading the post as if it happened to you, you can identify more easily with what they are going through. And that will help you to know what to say and do. 

2. Shift your commenting mode.  We sometimes comment to get a point across, or comment to say how the post has affected us. This is not the time or place for that. When commenting on a comfort needing post, the most important thing to remember is to really see the person that created the post. Think about how they are feeling and what they need to hear. This is all about them. Avoid platitudes such as “RIP” and “Everything will be ok”. They may seem ok as you type them but ask yourself: Is this what I’dwant to hear if I were the one posting. 

3. Share a memory.  It’s always ok to share a memory. Those are words of the best kind. 

4. Go private.  Send a text or a snail mail card. Pick up the phone and call, even if it’s only to leave a message.  When you reach out one to one instead of commenting for the world to see, it means more. It just does. It’s you, personally communicating and connecting with them only.  Human to human connection.

5. Do more.Everything for them has changed, their daily routine has been blown out the window. What more can you do for them? Do they need help? Do they need financial support or help with the kids? Can you help run errands for them or meet them for a cup of coffee? It’s easy to assume that someone else will step up and take care of what they need.  But it doesn’t always work that way. People are all too busy now.  If it’s on your heart, then you are meant to help. Please do. 

6. This is long term. People don’t just “get over” the worst times in their lives.  So, remember them.  Depending on how close you are to them or the situation, stay in touch. Write down the important dates and remind yourself to follow up again and again and again. It will mean a whole lot to them.  

So then maybe the best way we can use Social Media is to use it as a springboard to care for each other in a more meaningful way, bringing them comfort. Instead of going on Facebook or Instagram with the main focus of “look at what I’m doing and what I think”; what happens when we change the focus to “I see you”?  I see your hurt and your pain. I will not forget. I’m here for you and I care. Both on my digital devices and off of them one to one. 

Imagine that world for a minute… social media used primarily to help care for others. More comfort and deeper friendships.

I think we can hit the “love” button to that. 💜

Jen Marr is Founder & CEO of Inspiring Comfort LLC.  Learn more about how you can comfort better at

Jen Marr